Kauto Star is now only 50-50 to run in the Cheltenham Gold Cup after suffering what trainer Paul Nicholls described as an “awful fall”” at home.

The dual Gold Cup-winning 12-year-old fell at Ditcheat, Somerset, during training last week.

After winning a record fifth King George VI Chase in December, Kauto’s run in this year’s Gold Cup against 2011 winner Long Run has been hotly anticipated.

But Paul Nicholls said today (Thursday 1 March) that the horse’s participation in the race (on 16 March) looked to be “in doubt”.

“Kauto took a tumble when Ruby schooled him at the end of last week. I say tumble, but in truth it was a pretty awful fall,” said Paul in his Betfair column.

“We immediately got Kauto checked over, even though he trotted sound, it was plain to see that he was sore afterwards. He has had the best veterinary and physiotherapy care possible but we hoped that he would be showing more improvement by now.

“I spoke to Clifford [Baker, head lad] yesterday and he said Kauto still wasn’t fully recovered, that he remained quite stiff, and in his wise words he felt he was ‘only 50-50’ to make the Festival at this stage.”

Paul added that the horse is still cantering daily but unless he is “110% right” Kauto won’t be going “anywhere near Cheltenham”.

“We will do what is best for the horse. Always have, always will. End of story.

“He is a hard so-and-so and it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if he was back firing on all cylinders at home before Cheltenham, and went on to beat Long Run for a third time this season. But at this stage his participation does hang in the balance.”