Paul Nicholls, the champion trainer is determined to wait until the Cheltenham Gold Cup, for which Kauto Star is a top-priced 3-1 chance, before giving him another outing. Nicholls is convinced that Kauto is better fresh and with the best of three months to rest him, he should come back for the Gold Cup spot on.
Kauto was mightily impressive when winning his third King George Chase on Boxing Day and answered the doubters who had felt that he was on the decline. Nicholls was clearly over the moon with his win, he had told everybody in a loud voice beforehand that Kauto was at his best despite falling at the last in the Betfair Chase in November and he was not wrong.
Meanwhile, one of Kauto Stars enduring rivals, Exotic Dancer won his first Grade One when he winning the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown on 28th December, a race which saw Kautos stablemate and third in the 2008 Gold Cup, Neptune Collonges fall at the second last when in front. It was difficult to say whether he would have won had he have stayed on his feet, but equally, Exotic Dancer was seriously well poised after being held up by jockey, Tony McCoy for much of the race. Former Gold Cup winner was well beaten but finished second which possibly means that he may not take his place in the Gold Cup field.
The win has earned Exotic Dancer a quote of 16/1 for the Gold Cup, but connections may opt to run him in the Ryanair Chase instead, clearly feeling that they are not good enough to beat Kauto Star, let alone a fit Denman.
Last season's Gold Cup winner Denman is likely to go for the Aon Chase at Newbury as his Festival preparation.