03/12/2012 1:39PM

Cheltenham: Kauto Star a go for try at third Gold Cup

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CHELTENHAM, England – Kauto Star is on target for a possible third win in Friday’s Cheltenham Gold Cup at Cheltenham Racecourse in western England.

Monday, trainer Paul Nicholls confirmed the participation of Kauto Star, following schooling sessions over fences and routine training over the weekend.

Kauto Star fell during training in late February. After initial concern about the prospects of making the Gold Cup, Kauto Star subsequently trained well, giving Nicholls the confidence to go forward. The Gold Cup, comparable to the Breeders’ Cup Classic as a year-end championship, is run over three miles and two furlongs, and encompasses 22 fences.

A 12-year-old, Kauto Star won the Gold Cup in 2007 and 2009 and was third in 2011 behind Long Run, the 7-4 favorite to defend his title on Friday. Nicholls’s announcement that Kauto Star was an intended starter in the Gold Cup left the gelding a 7-2 shot with bookmakers.

Friday’s program is the fourth and final day of the Cheltenham meeting.

Wednesday’s top race is the Queen Mother Champion Chase over two miles, and 13 fences.

Defending champion Sizing Europe will be an odds-on choice to defend his title. Sizing Europe, 10-11 with bookmakers as of Monday, has made five subsequent starts since last March’s race, winning three times. In his last start, the 10-year-old gelding won the Tied Cottage Chase at Punchestown, Ireland, on Feb. 5, edging Big Zeb, another contender for the Queen Mother.

There are eight entries in the Queen Mother Champion Chase, including Kauto Stone, a half-brother to Kauto Star, and a 14-1 chance.