Kauto trainer Nicholls impressed by Kicking King's comeback


Last updated at 14:52 25 January 2008

The 2005 Gold Cup

winner Kicking King

finished an honourable

second to

Nickname in the Normans

Grove Chase at

Gowran Park,

impressing Paul Nicholls

who trains big rivals Kauto

Star and Denman.

Nicholls said he would be

"chuffed" if Kicking King were his

horse, having made most of the

running until trying to demolish

the second last fence when he

was headed for the first time. It

was his first race for 25 months.

kicking king

Nicholls said: "If he was mine I'd

be absolutely delighted. Tom

(Taaffe) has done a really good

job getting him back and I suppose

they'll want to get another

race into him before the Gold

Cup. His next run will tell a lot. I

always think horses who have

been off a long while are fitter

these days because you can work

them at home."

Coral slashed his Festival odds

from 33-1 to 14-1 as news filtered

through that Exotic Dancer, runner-

up to Kauto Star last year, is out of the Letheby & Christopher

Chase at Cheltenham

tomorrow after pulling muscles

in his hind quarters.

Kicking King, running over only

two miles and a furlong, made all

the running until his bad mistake

at the second last but still had

the strength to repel the former

two-mile champion chaser Newmill,

who finished third behind

the hard-ridden Nickname.

A delighted Taaffe said: "He ran

a cracker for his first run back.

He was a bit rusty and short of

match practice and you could

see that two out and at the first

ditch. It shows how good a horse

he is to come back. He might

return here for the Red Mills in

three weeks. The Irish Hennessey

is in 17 days but that

might be on the tight side. After the Red Mills there is four and a

half weeks to the Gold Cup."

Martin Brassill will aim Nickname

at the Hennessy in a bid to

win over three miles for the first

time. He said: "That was a good

performance giving 8lb to a Gold

Cup winner. His ideal trip is two

and a half miles but I am going

to step him up for the Hennessy."

Exotic Dancer's injury, just

seven weeks before the Gold

Cup, is bad news for connections.

Owner Robert Ogden's racing

manager Barry Simpson said:

"The vet is due to look at him

tomorrow morning after which

there will be a statement."

One horse who will definitely be

missing from Cheltenham in

March is Glencove Marina, second

favourite for the Arkle Chase.

He has had a setback and will

miss the rest of the season.