Thursday, November 4, 2010

Star of County Down

Star of County Down

Five things you need to know about Down Royal Racecourse

1. The Ulster Derby is run there each year in June.
2. Technically the racecourse is in the United Kingdom, but it is under the governance of Horse Racing Ireland.
3. It is situated 30 miles away from the birthplace of Tony McCoy.
4. The biggest race of the year there is the James Nicholson Wine 3 mile chase, run each November.

This takes us to point number five;

Kauto Star will win point number four this Saturday.

There is no need to say much about Kauto Star; Tony McCoy summed it up during the week when he stated simply and unequivocally “Kauto Star is as good a horse as I have ever seen” Not bad praise for a man who won a King George on Best Mate.
Kauto Star visited the Northern track once before, in November 2008, that day he beat a poor field and won an unextended 11 lengths as the 2/5 favourite. He went on to win The Gold Cup that same season.

The Champion Chase is a Grade 1 over 3 miles, at £140,000 it’s valuable and not many people know it’s the very first Grade 1 event of the Irish National Hunt season. It is also likely to be the last time Kauto will be in Ireland racing but his current odds of 8/13 are far too skinny, given the opposition and conditions.
He is up against Arkle winner, Sizing Europe. In my opinion, Henry De Bromhead’s star has yet to prove he can stay, he was well beaten last time out over 2m 7f but may have needed the run. He did win once over 2m 4f but never beyond, he is still improving though and Saturday’s run will tell a lot.

By Pistolet Bleu, it is noteworthy that getting 3 miles is not a guarantee. Geos, who was also by Pistolet Bleu never won beyond 2 miles (he finished last in the long walk hurdle) I'msingingtheblues, by the same stallion fell over 2m 4f and was beaten 9 lengths when favourite for the Future Champion Novices' Chase (grade 2) in Ayr last year, also over 2 m 4f. Indeed Pistolet Bleu’s collective progeny produce very few winners over distances greater than 2 miles.

China Rock is a solid stayer and may give Kauto a race. He was a good fourth in a very hot Jewson in Cheltenham and second to Kempes in the Grade 1 Champion Novice Chase at Punchestown. If the ground turns up soft to heavy he may not appreciate the going but is still an exciting prospect and is still just a seven year old.

Last year Kauto Star ran seven times, winning five and unseating and falling in the Betfair Chase (at the last) and The Gold Cup respectively. He is likely to run less this year, Saturday will be is 25th start for Paul Nicholls, a partnership that sees a 66% strike rate.

Kauto runs well fresh and will have recovered well from his fall four out at Cheltenham. For Ruby Walsh it will be a case of settling the horse early and letting him do what he does best, switched off.

In fifteen years of following horse racing I have never seen a horse better than Kauto Star, I fully believe he will win on Saturday and be the toast of Co. Down.

In doing so, he will join Beef or Salmon to become the most successful horse in the race and if the Gods are favourable, he will take his fifth King George in six weeks.

On Saturday we should just watch and enjoy a legend, not one in the making but one already made.

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