Hope grows for Kauto but decision delayed

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NO decision on Kauto Star’s Cheltenham Gold Cup participation will be taken until Monday – even though the two-time winner will have a racecourse gallop at Wincanton today.

As the 12-year-old recovers from a heavy schooling fall a fortnight ago, and is now likely to contest a sixth successive Gold Cup in a week’s time, trainer Paul Nicholls and owner Clive Smith are still cautious.

“He’s coming along nicely now and is almost back to normal. We’re nearly there, I think,” said Smith.

“The decision will be made on Monday, not Friday. Paul has said the he will school him on the grass gallops at home, as he has done every year before Cheltenham, and after he’s done that the decision will be announced.”

Like Nicholls, trainer Alan King is also enduring a troublesome Festival build-up. While Triumph Hurdle favourite Grumeti has been given an all-clear, the well-backed Invictus is now doubtful for the RSA Chase.

Lucy Alexander warmed up for her first Cheltenham rides when partnering the Ferdy Murphy-trained Rich Lord to victory at Carlisle.