Big races

Nacarat could take on Kauto Star at Punchestown

Nacarat, a brilliant winner of last week’s Grade One totesport Bowl at Aintree, looks set to take on Kauto Star is the Grade One Punchestown Guinness Gold Cup at the Irish National Hunt Festival at Punchestown on Wednesday, May 4.

Tom George’s charge jumped his rivals into submission in Liverpool with a front-running display that could prove to be the perfect prelude to a tilt at the 160,000 euros Punchestown Guinness Gold Cup, run over three miles and a furlong.

Nacarat, also successful in the 2009 Racing Post Chase and this season’s Grade Two Charlie Hall Chase, had the likes of Denman, Follow The Plan and Deep Purple in trouble a long way from home before drawing clear for a six-length verdict over Carole’s Legacy at Aintree.

George, who trains close to Cheltenham at Slad, revealed today: “We are considering the Punchestown Guinness Gold Cup for Nacarat. It’s a Grade One race with prize money to match and it could be that he is one step better going right-handed on better ground. We always thought he was best going right-handed and Paddy (Brennan) has mentioned that in the past.”

George is hoping for similar ground conditions to those experienced at Aintree last week in Ireland.

He continued: “At Aintree, he showed everything that he has always promised to do when he gets his favoured ground. It doesn’t have to be good ground – he likes good to soft but not soft ground. He goes on heavy to a certain extent, but to perform at his optimum, he needs good to soft or good and I actually don’t think he would like it fast either.

“The better ground brings out the best in him. He loves jumping off it and he is much happier.

“He has come out of the race unbelievably well. He never even blew much and the only three times he has had the ideal ground were in the Racing Post Chase two years ago, the Charlie Hall Chase earlier this season and last week at Aintree.

“As it is, we have a month to see how he is and that is about the length of time he likes between his races. I know him well and he is a horse that I can get fresh quite quickly and easily at home – he is not a horse that takes a lot of work, so we can keep him happy.

“We would not run him on soft but if it were good or good to soft and if he is in good form, we would have to think very seriously about going over there. There is no point waiting until next December to find that we have heavy ground when this could be a chance on good ground.”

The Punchestown Guinness Gold Cup has a long and illustrious roll of honour that includes the legendary Arkle in 1963. Other outstanding winners include Fort Leney (1964), Carvill’s Hill (1989), Imperial Call (1999), Florida Pearl (2002), Beef Or Salmon (2004), Kicking King (2005) and War Of Attrition (2006).

Neptune Collonges landed the prize in 2007 and 2008 for Britain’s champion trainer Paul Nicholls and he is set to saddle the great dual Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Kauto Star in the race.

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