- The Washington Times - Friday, March 13, 2009

CHELTENHAM, ENGLAND (AP) - Kauto Star made Cheltenham Gold Cup history Friday by becoming the first horse to regain the trophy.

The 9-year-old gelding, who won the race two years ago, beat last year’s winner Denman for another 1-2 by trainer Paul Nicholls.

Kauto Star took the lead with three fences to go and pulled away to win by 13 lengths in the highlight race of the four-day Cheltenham Festival. A three-time winner of the King George VI at Kempton Park, Kauto Star went off as the 7-4 favorite in the 3 1/4 mile race.

“He’s the greatest horse I’ve ever ridden,” said winning rider Ruby Walsh, who extended his meet record to seven victories. “Two miles, three miles, now two Gold Cups. He’s magic, he’s a wonder horse. He traveled super all the way.”

Denman, with Sam Thomas riding, stayed with Kauto Star behind leader Neptune Collonges for much of the race, raising the possibility that last year’s first three home would do it again.

But Neptune Collonges failed to respond as his stablemates charged by with three fences to go. When Walsh got Kauto Star to break away, 7-1 shot Denman did not follow.

Exotic Dancer, an 8-1 shot ridden by champion jockey Tony McCoy, was third, 2 1/2 lengths behind Denman. Neptune Collonges was fourth.

“He’s fit, he’s fresh, he was never going to get beat today,” Nicholls said of the winner. “But what a race Denman ran. It was a huge run from him and he’ll be back next year.

“Kauto Star was fresh, very fit and the ground came right. He’s a very good horse.”

Walsh collected his sixth victory of the meeting when 20-1 shot American Trilogy raced away from the field by 11 lengths in the Vincent O’Brien County Handicap Hurdle.

Walsh almost added another when 3-1 favorite Pride Of Dulcote was edged by 8-1 shot Weapon’s Amnesty in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle.

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