Cheltenham - (Steeplechasing Mess): Fears that this year's Gold Cup wannabe hero Kauto Star may be kidnapped in a Shergar-style ransom bid have prompted a 24 hour armed guard at the stables.
Trainer Paul Nicholls is taking no chances after mortgaging his entire property portfolio to back the eight year-old for next month's Cheltenham Blue Riband of bumper bookies' payouts.
Owner Clive Smith's gelding has his own bomb-proofed motorised horsebox and a team of two dozen crack-shot marksmen patrolling the stable grounds.
"We can't afford for him not to win having staked every penny at 6/4," Smith admitted nervously.
The steeplechasing young star was bred in France where he previously ran under the name 'L'Extraterrestrial'.
Some believe this refers to the abbreviations of his first three French race placements which were Unseated rider, Fell and O meaning unplaced.
Jockey Ruby Walsh commented today:
"That UFO and Extraterrestrial connection sure scared the bosses shitless.
"Alien abduction was the top theory when the Provos kidnapped Shergar back in '82.
"Never seen so many armed marksmen around a stables since George W Bush asked to visit the Royal Stud during his State Visit," Walsh added, "prompting fears he'd interfere with the stallions."
Frankie Dettori is fit as a flea.