Any talk of retirement for Kauto Star would be “premature” according to his trainer Paul Nicholls.
The 12-year-old was pulled up in last week’s Cheltenham Gold Cup, but his handler had faced a race against time to get the legendary chaser back to full fitness after a schooling fall a fortnight before the race left his participation in the balance.
Nicholls believed Kauto Star was right back to his best after a racecourse gallop at Wincanton and a schooling session at home, but Ruby Walsh was sending out distress signals from an early stage and Nicholls believes he overstretched at the water jump.
“We just ran out of time with him. But Kauto is 100%, and we will canter him away and rough him off for the summer and see where we stand when he comes back in,” he wrote in his Betfair column.
“But any talk of retirement is very premature. Clive (Smith, owner) and I haven’t even discussed it, and I dare say we won’t in any great detail until Kauto comes back in, in July. This season told everyone not to be so hasty in writing him off.”
Andrew Lynch believes the omission of the final fence in the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham cost him his chance of victory on Sizing Europe.
Henry de Bromhead’s charge lost his crown to Finian’s Rainbow but after the early fall of Wishfull Thinking, Sizing Europe was left in front for most of the race.
One of his major assets is his jumping and Lynch is of the opinion he would have had a better chance of success had the pair had to jump the last obstacle.
“I’ve watched it an awful lot of times. It’s just one of those things,” said Lynch.
“There’s no point getting annoyed about it now, what’s done is done. It’s a pity but you never know what might have happened.
“You’d like to think it cost us our chance but we’ll never know.
“He jumped, he travelled and he seemed to be in great form, same as I rode him last year. The plan was to pick him up until the back of the last and go away again but it didn’t work out like that.
“He’s come out of the race well. Big Zeb is probably a bit better at Punchestown and it will be interesting if Nicky Henderson sends anything over.”
Lynch also received plenty of plaudits for his ride on Voler La Vedette in the World Hurdle but like so many others, she came up just short against Big Buck’s.
“She ran a blinder. She’s a very good mare. She was getting 7lb off Big Buck’s and he’s one of the best hurdlers I’ve ever seen,” he told At The Races.
“If everything goes according to plan, it will be an interesting race against Quevega at Punchestown.”