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by MONITOR
THERE is no race meeting to equal the Cheltenham National Hunt Festival - not even Royal Ascot or the Epsom Derby and Aintree Grand National meetings.
Cheltenham's setting is superb with the stands set above a vast natural bowl in which the course is set. Even more important is that the crowd at the Festival is there for the racing and for nothing else - not the social atmosphere of Ascot, the holiday atmosphere of the Derby or the lottery appeal of the Grand National.

Yesterday's Gold Cup - the lhighlight of the four-day meeting - could not be described as exciting but it was certainly heartwarming as Kauto Star drew away from the rest of the field from three fences out to finish a clear 13 lengths ahead of his stable-companion Denman in second place. Kauto Star thus confirmed his 2007 victory and amended for his defeat by Denman last year, and in doing so became the first horse ever to regain the Gold Cup. The Queen's horse Barbers Shop - a rare runner for her under National Hunt rules - was always in a position to deliver a challenge but proved unable to do so.

As a 7/4 favourite Kauto Star was a very popular winner; on TV the presenter ran past the packed crowd asking them to shout out their choice - and it was mostly Kauto Star. With two Gold Cups and three wins in Kempton's King George V Chase to his credit, this fine nine-year-old must now be Britain's favourite.