Katchit chasing a Kings ransom
Liverpool Echo - 2007-10-26

GOLD CUP hero Kauto Star wont be the only champion jumper setting out at Aintree this weekend on the trail of a 1million bonus.

The classy seven-year-old lines up in Sunday’s Old Roan Chase, his warm-up race before the first leg of the Betfair Million at Haydock Park next month.

Just 30 minutes earlier another flying machine, the aptly named Katchit, begins his own quest for a cash jackpot.

Katchit, trained at Marlborough by Alan King, established himself as Britain’s best juvenile hurdler last season by landing a pair of Grade One events at both the Cheltenham and Aintree festivals.

And on Sunday the four-year-old heads the weights in the Personalised Calendars From Bonusprint. com Hurdle (2.10). It’s a contest his trainer believes will provide the ideal starting point for the £1m WBX.com bonus being offered for any horse winning the three top two-mile hurdle races outside the novice division.

Katchit’s first major target is the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle on December 1, after which he will be aimed at Kempton’s Christmas Hurdle, then the championship itself at Cheltenham in March.

Says King: “There isn’t very much of Katchit, but he certainly seems a bit stronger after his summer break.

“His work has been very good and we’ve done a fair bit with him. He’s a real star and the ground at Aintree will be fine for him, too.

“We won’t be using lack of a run as an excuse. I just want to get him started and this looks the ideal race before hopefully heading off for the Fighting Fifth.”

Kauto Star, meanwhile, will give away 7lbs to Exotic Dancer – whom he beat by two and a half lengths at Cheltenham – and a stone to talented grey, Monet’s Garden, in the Old Roan. It’s a tough assignment and one trainer Paul Nicholls fears may prove beyond the gelding at this stage of the season.

Regular rider Ruby Walsh has schooled the champion this week and while top weight didn’t stop Kauto Star winning the Aintree contest by 21 lengths last term, the opposition was nowhere near so strong that day.

“The important thing is to get a race into him,” said Nicholls. “It would have been nice to find a race where he could run off level weights, but we have to start somewhere.

“This year, a lot of our horses have tended to come on for the run. They benefit far more from that rather than just working at home.

“Kauto is in good order, but he may just be carrying a bit of condition. All the big targets are later on in the season.”

Day one of Aintree’s autumn meeting sees a six-race card start at 1.10pm tomorrow, while Sunday’s fixture is the Halloween themed family race day, Freaky Family Funday.

Sunday also sees the official opening by BBC sports presenter Clare Balding of Aintree’s £4.6m International Equestrian Centre, in the grounds of the racecourse. Pony Club show jumping and games will take place in the centre throughout the day


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