Paul Nicholls although disappointed was not too perturbed by Kauto Star’s defeat in the Betfair Chase on 23 November, the 2/5 odds on favourite never travelled well during the race and he finally fell for the first time in his career at the last, when looking beaten. As a result, he has been eased in the betting for the Cheltenham Gold Cup and is now best price 4/1 with Ladbrokes, while his stable mate, and 2008 Gold Cup winner, Denman, shortened to even money favourite, despite having yet to make his seasonal reappearance.
Kauto Star who had won the Betfair Chase for the past two years but relinquished his crown to shock winner, Snoopy loopy, who showed great heart on the run in to get the better of, Tamarinbleu, who had made all and the gallant Exotic Dancer.
It was a win that Welsh trainer, Peter Bowen had fully deserved, he has been knocking on the door of big race wins for the last few years and now Snoopy Loopy has given him his biggest. In the process, Snoopy Loopy has been quoted at 25/1 for the Gold Cup, but whether he runs or not remains to be seen. He was the outsider in the field in this race and could have been backed at 50/1 on Saturday morning. Bowen had said prior to the race that he expected him to run well and be in the money at least, but even he did not think he could get the better of Kauto Star and win.
In some ways, defeat has made the Cheltenham highlight a much more interesting race. Denman and Kauto Star had dominated the betting, but now with Kauto Star only winning once in his last four starts and the lingering doubts about Denman’s fitness, perhaps the punters should be looking elsewhere for the winner.
One of those who is worthy of a look is the 2006 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, War Of Attrition, who next runs in the John Durkan Memorial Chase on December 7th at Punchestown. Mouse Morris’s nine year old has won impressively twice already this Autumn after a lay off of nearly two years. A good performance again at Punchestown could see his odds considerably shortened from his current price of 25/1 available with William Hill.
Meanwhile, Kauto Star will still head for the King George VI Chase at Kempton Park on Boxing Day, another race that he has won for the past two years. He will again be up against quality opposition but the bookmakers still have him has fvourite but have chalked up a much more appealing 6/4 than the odds on available prior to Saturday's Haydock disappointment.