Mohaison to join top pair in Gold Cup for Nicholls

Last updated at 22:06 09 January 2008

Jump racing's most anticipated head-to-head since Arkle took on Mill House in 1964 moved a small step nearer today with the confirmation that both Kauto Star and Denman are among the entries for the Totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup on 14 March.

The Paul Nicholls-trained pair dominate the betting for steeplechasing's blue riband event and the pair, who are stabled next to each other at their trainer's Somerset yard, featured among the declarations at today's latest entry stage.

But Star De Mohaison, a third Nicholls inmate who won the 2006 Royal & SunAlliance Chase at Cheltenham, is almost ready to stake his own claim for glory in the £450,000 race.

Barry Simpson, racing manager to Star De Mohaison's owner Sir Robert Ogden, today gave a positive bulletin over the condition of the seven-year-old who returned from 13 months off to finish third over hurdles at Cheltenham on New Year's Day.

"We had thought about the Ryanair Chase, but it is going to be the Gold Cup or nothing for him now," said Simpson.

"I think he took Paul [Nicholls] a bit by surprise last time out. He wasn't quite as fit as we thought, but he was staying on again at the finish and he has come out of the race very well.

"The three possible races for him now are the Irish Hennessy, the Aon Chase at Newbury or the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham.

"The ground will help to make the decision as he would want some decent going, but no doubt the weather will have its say as the Cheltenham and Newbury fixtures have both been called off in recent years.

"He has still got a long way to go before he is Gold Cup class. Even though he won the SunAlliance Chase well, he probably needs to find 20lb to be competitive with Kauto Star.

"But I certainly wouldn't want to write him off after one run over hurdles, especially given the way he has come out of the race."

The most notable absentee from the entries is last year's Arkle Chase winner My Way De Solzen, a flop in the King George VI Chase last time out.