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Kauto Star - Ruby Walsh - Clive Smith - Kempton - King George VI Chase - December 2008

Kauto Star with Clive Smith, right, who has confidence in his star chaser

  PICTURE: Mark Cranham  

Smith bullish about Kauto Gold Cup chance

OWNER Clive Smith believes Kauto Star can not only beat Denman, but make history by winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup on March 13.

The two Paul Nicholls-trained stars are among a 38-strong entry for this year's Totesport-sponsored showpiece, which will boast record prize-money of £475,000.

No horse has ever won non-consecutive renewals of chasing's Blue Riband, but Smith feels that Kauto Star, successful in 2007 but a seven-length runner-up to stablemate Denman last year, when the ground was good to soft, has what it takes to regain his crown.

He said: "If we get the right going then I think we have every chance of beating Denman. I like to think of it as home and away - it was like a home fixture for Denman last season because he got his favouredground, while Kauto Star couldn't get going in it. That's not to take anything away from Denman, because I thought he was superb."

Nicholls, aiming for a hat-trick of Gold Cup wins, is responsible for eight entries in total, a list that includes Neptune Collonges, who chased home Denman and Kauto Star last March to give the trainer a momentous 1-2-3 in the race.

William Hill make it a 1-7 chance that Nicholls lifts the Gold Cup again, and 4-1 that another trainer triumphs. Nicholls is also 5-1 to repeat last year’s 1-2-3 and a 25-1 chance to emulate Michael Dickinson’s 1983 feat of saddling the first five home.

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