World sports round-up. Stars of the turf

THE NATIONAL Hunt season is well under way, and the early signs are that Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Kauto Star will once more dominate the top division of steeple chasing.

At his Aintree reappearance, the Paul Nicholls-trained champion was beaten a length and a half by Grade One course-and-distance winner Monet’s Garden, while conceding a stone. Over three miles at level weights that top-draw opponent would have been beaten out of sight. Over the smaller obstacles Katchit is the early 5-1 Champion Hurdle favourite after taking the last weekend’s feature race at the same meeting. Meanwhile Ibn Khaldun won the Racing Post Trophy on the flat in highly impressive style and now heads next year’s 2000 Guineas market.

In America, the first European Breeders’ Cup blank since 1998 saw fancied runners such as Excellent Art, Dylan Thomas and Passage of Time fail in the Monmouth Park mud, while Aidan O’Brien’s Classic contender George Washington had to be put down after breaking two bones in his off-fore ankle.

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