Choice gets middle draw

Galileo’s Choice will start from stall 11 in the Melbourne Cup at Flemington tomorrow. The six-year-old attempts to give Dermot Weld his third win in Australia’s greatest race after Vintage Crop (1993) and Media Puzzle in 2002. Weld’s son Mark said: “We’re very pleased with that as he has several of the leading runners just outside him. It looks possibly the best Cup in recent memory and we’d very much like to see some rain by Tuesday.” Mount Athos will start from stall eight, while Luca Cumani’s second string My Quest For Peace has drawn right against the inside rail. Cumani said of Mount Athos: “I wanted eight to 12, so I’m happy.”

Galileo’s Choice will start from stall 11 in the Melbourne Cup at Flemington tomorrow. The six-year-old attempts to give Dermot Weld his third win in Australia’s greatest race after Vintage Crop (1993) and Media Puzzle in 2002. Weld’s son Mark said: “We’re very pleased with that as he has several of the leading runners just outside him. It looks possibly the best Cup in recent memory and we’d very much like to see some rain by Tuesday.” Mount Athos will start from stall eight, while Luca Cumani’s second string My Quest For Peace has drawn right against the inside rail. Cumani said of Mount Athos: “I wanted eight to 12, so I’m happy.”

Reigning champion Dunaden has a slightly awkward barrier in 16 to overcome, but his owner Sheikh Fahad Al-Thani said: “I think when he won the Caulfield Cup he was at about 80% and he’s 100% now, he is doing very well. “I think Red Cadeaux is a big danger, he is well-in at the weights with us from last year but this horse is a champion and I wouldn’t swap him for anyone. He loves Australia.”

The Sheikh’s racing manager David Redvers said of the draw: “We were hoping for anything between eight and 20, we weren’t too bothered, but we’re only three off where we were last year so the Sheikh chose well.”

Dunaden’s compatriot Americain, who won two years ago, will begin from 12.

Last year’s runner-up Red Cadeaux is out in stall 18, but the John Gosden-trained Gatewood failed in his bid to make the final field of 24 when managing only sixth in the Lexus Stakes on Saturday.

Monksland back with classy show

Rising star Monksland managed to overcome an untidy leap at the last to make a winning seasonal reappearance in the Grade Two WKD Hurdle at Down Royal. Last seen when finishing third behind Simonsig at the Cheltenham Festival, Noel Meade’s charge had won his two previous outings over hurdles and was sent off the 4-5 favourite to strike here. Paul Carberry made his move with two left to jump and Monksland pulled clear in style before clattering the final obstacle.That mistake gave Joxer a glimmer of hope, but Monksland showed his class as he pulled clear again. Meade said: “I had it in my head to go chasing with him, but Seamus (Hunt) said I was mad as he has had only three hurdle runs. My assistant trainer and travelling head lad also go into my ear about it, so we went hurdling.

“He jumped a bit moderately and he missed the last one. He got a bit tired in the end. I know he gets two and a half miles, so we’ll step him up to that next time.”

Carberry was later suspended for five days for his riding of Meade’s fourth home Johannisberger in the beginners chase, the stewards deciding he failed “to take all reasonable and permissible measures to ensure his horse is given a full opportunity to win or of obtaining the best possible place” after he lost third close home. Donal Coffey’s Top Madam (10-1) ran out a game winner of the Grade Three EBF Lough Construction Ltd. Mares Novice Hurdle, for which Missunited was sent off the 8-13 favourite after running up a string of four wins over the summer.

Both began to make their moves as the field turned for home and Top Madam soon assumed control in the hands of Davy Condon, with Missunited ruining her chance with some indifferent jumping. Top Madam beat Thynetocatcher by a length. The winning trainer was not at the track, but Top Madam’s breeder Noel O’Neill, a son-in-law of Coffey’s, said: “Donal can’t be here as he got a kick from a horse, but is OK. Top Madam is just a tough mare and takes a lot of work at home. She wants good ground and jumped better today.

“Her game in time will be chasing - she won her point-to-point as a four-year-old and was third in a Grade Three Hurdle on ground that was against her. She’ll have a break now and will be back in throughout spring.”

Calidoscopio scoops Marathon spoils

Irish raiders Sense Of Purpose and Fame And Glory failed to act on the dirt surface at Santa Anita, trailing home well in arrears of Calidoscopio in the Breeders’ Cup Marathon. Both were prominent in the early stages, but Fame And Glory was already being ridden by Jamie Spencer with a circuit to go, with Pat Smullen hard at work on Sense Of Purpose soon after. Favourite Atigun led from a long way out and saw off most rivals, but Calidoscopio, trained in Argentina by Guillermo Frenkel Santillan, came with an irresistible run down the centre of the track to win going away.

Trainer Aidan O’Brien revealed that Fame And Glory, winner of the 2011 Gold Cup at Royal Ascot, has been retired. He said: “The race was there in the book and we gave it a try. We took a chance and it didn’t come off, so he will be retired now. “He just showed us that he didn’t like it and he wanted to go home.”

The six-year-old’s jockey Jamie Spencer said: “I was exactly where I wanted to be in the stretch first time, but then all of a sudden he just didn’t want to know.”

Sense Of Purpose’s trainer Dermot Weld said: “My mare didn’t handle it and that’s it. There’s nothing you can do. She didn’t like the dirt coming up into her face.”

Kauto Star has run last race

Kauto Star, whose fabulous career included two victories in the Gold Cup at the Cheltenham Festival, has been retired. The 12-year-old, trained by Paul Nicholls and owned by Clive Smith, bows out as one of the greatest horses in the history of the National Hunt game after connections decided not to go for one more season’s racing. Smith said: “It’s always been in the back of my mind this summer that we should retire him and I’m pleased that now we have made a final decision.”

Kauto Star won 16 Grade One races during a magnificent career. Although he became the first horse to reclaim the Gold Cup at Cheltenham in 2009, having firstly taken the blue riband in 2007, the esteemed chaser will also be remembered for his startling five victories in the King George at Kempton.

Many believed retirement beckoned when he was pulled up in the Punchestown Guinness Gold Cup in May of 2011, but Kauto Star stunned the doubters with a fourth triumph on his comeback in the Betfair Chase at Haydock last November and he topped that with his fifth King George.

However, Kauto Star’s preparations for the 2012 Gold Cup suffered a major blow in late February after Nicholls revealed he had taken “a pretty awful fall” during a schooling session. Connections eventually gave him the go-ahead to compete, but he was pulled up by regular pilot Ruby Walsh. Smith went on: “We could have retired him a year ago. A lot of people said then he should be retired, but he came back with those terrific two wins. Then he had the schooling accident at home and wasn’t able to show his best in the Gold Cup.

“We thought about whether we wanted him to go out like that and we gave him the summer off in the paddock as normal and decided we’d give him two months’ training to see how he would react. That brought us to the end of October, where we are now, and the decision has been made to call it a day.

“He’s had a fantastic career and it’s great that he’s been able to retire safe and sound. It’s very difficult to pick out highlights as he’s won 16 Grade Ones and every one of them has been a real delight. “His comeback in the Betfair Chase last year was a bit special. It was such an exciting day, he got such a great reception from the crowd. Then he went and won a fifth King George and you are getting to the stage where it is beyond belief. But it is very hard to look past Gold Cups.”

Walsh salutes ‘horse of a lifetime’

Ruby Walsh described Kauto Star as “incredible” after the announcement that the 12-year-old has run his last race in an illustrious career. Walsh partnered the French import to 17 victories, including both his Cheltenham Gold Cup triumphs and his five wins in the King George VI Chase.

“He’s the horse of my lifetime. I’m very lucky to be the one who got to ride him. He was an incredible horse from the beginning, from when he won his novice chase in Newbury all the way to his fifth King George,” said Walsh. “He’s got me to places I didn’t think I’d ever be. He was just an incredible horse. A couple of Gold Cups, Betfair Chases, five King Georges, Tingle Creeks - he did everything. He was an amazing horse to ride and an amazing horse to be part of and I loved every minute of riding him.

“I remember going to Newbury to ride him (on his first run in Britain) and thinking, ‘This is half an Arkle’. Paul (Nicholls) said he was a nice horse and he came down the straight with his head in his chest. I had so much horse underneath me and from that day I was in love with him.

“He had a few knocks and a few setbacks, but he was always an exceptional horse and a tough horse. He came back from hard races and heavy falls. He just kept coming back and getting back up to Grade One level again.

“He was a little indecisive (when jumping), so you always then had to be decisive. “I have some amazing memories, so many good days. He was a wonderful horse to be riding and a wonderful horse to have in your life,” he told Racing UK.

Tony McCoy partnered Kauto Star just once, but said: “He’s the best horse that I’ve seen. He’s been unbelievably well handled by Paul Nicholls. It’s great he’s going out in one piece - he was an exceptional chaser.”

Oscars well ahead on chase bow

High-class hurdler Oscars Well made a pleasing debut over fences with a convincing victory in the Book New Years Eve Panoramic Restaurant Beginners Chase at Punchestown. Robbie Power had the Jessica Harrington-trained seven-year-old handily placed in fourth as Hi Big Man, Darwins Fox and Willowhill Warrior cut out the running.

Jumping into the lead with the minimum of fuss at the third-last, the 1-2 favourite was never out of second gear as he scored by 12 lengths from Darwins Fox, with Plan A a never-dangerous third.

Harrington said: “That was a lovely introduction. It’s great to get a win having not won at all last year - when they haven’t won for that long you start to worry a bit.

“I couldn’t believe how good he was jumping and Robbie said either long or short he was great. “I’d say he’ll go for the Drinmore (Fairyhouse, December 2) now and he probably won’t run again until then as he’s best fresh.”

Meade delighted with in-form Native

Noel Meade believes Go Native has rediscovered his very best form judged on his scintillating victory at Galway on Monday. A previous winner of the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham, Go Native was sent off favourite for the 2010 Champion Hurdle following victories in the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle and the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton earlier in the season, but the nine-year-old suffered an injury at Prestbury Park that would sideline him for well over two years. However, he was a highly promising third in a Flat race at Navan on his comeback earlier this month and he took another big step forward to win in most impressive style under Nina Carberry earlier this week. Meade said: “He’s come out of the race fine. There’s not a bother on him and that’s the main thing with him now, keeping him in one piece.

“We were hoping he would win and do it well as he did a fabulous piece of work in a schooling race at Fairyhouse a few days earlier. “You’d have to say the way he travelled through the race and quickened up in the straight, he seems to be right back to his best.

“We’ll see how we go but if he stays right, it will be a similar plan to what we’ve done in the past.

“We’ll think about the Fighting Fifth but at this stage I’d be more inclined to stay at home with him and go for the Morgiana in Punchestown.

“We’ll see what happens there and if all went well, we could make a plan to run in either Leopardstown or Kempton at Christmas.”

Court in Paddy Power frame

Champion Court could be rerouted to the Paddy Power Gold Cup after being ruled out of his intended reappearance at Kempton due to a slight setback. Trainer Martin Keighley feels the seven-year-old needs more time to recover from a minor problem, but he also has Havingotascoobydo in the big handicap chase at Cheltenham on November 17. Keighley, who trains in nearby Condicote, said: “I would only run one in the Paddy Power Gold Cup as they wouldn’t run against each other, and it depends on a few things.

“He went on: “Champion Court has done fantastic over the summer and has had a really long holiday and come back bigger and stronger. He’ll have to improve a notch to take on the best, but he is improving. “He may run in the Paddy Power and then go straight for the King George. But there are other options as he was due to run in a graduation chase at Kempton next Mondaybut has had a very small setback, nothing to worry about, and he won’t go there.

“So we’ve had to change our plans and he’ll have his first run either in the Paddy Power or at Ascot the following week. “Havingotascoobydo needed the run at Cheltenham. He came down the hill as good as anything but hit the second-last, and might have been a good fourth if it hadn’t been for that. He’ll come on leaps and bounds, but won’t run in the Paddy Power if he’s out of the weights, although a couple of pounds would be OK.”

The most notable absentee from the 44 entries published was The Giant Bolster, who was a 12-1 chance with the sponsors. Grands Crus is 7-2 favourite and could bid to give David Pipe back-to-back victories after the Nicholashayne handler struck with Great Endeavour last year. A quality entry includes Hunt Ball, one of the success stories of last season, with seven wins for trainer Keiran Burke and owner Anthony Knott.