HORSE guru Yogi Breisner admits it is unlikely Kauto Star will develop into an Olympic-class dressage horse following his retirement from racing.
The 12-year-old abruptly left the care of trainer Paul Nicholls on Tuesday after owner Clive Smith decided to let his star performer try a new discipline after the National Hunt icon retired.
Smith’s plan was not popular with the Ditcheat team and the trainer asked the owner to remove the horse, with Kauto Star now being cared for by new rider Laura Collett.
The 22-year-old is a decorated event rider at junior levels and aspiring Olympian for 2016, and she will work with the gelding alongside Breisner, the long-time British manager and coach.
“This is just a matter of getting to see if he will settle into a different type of routine in life,” said Breisner. “If he does that comfortably, then maybe there’s an alternative thing he can do, but we don’t know that until we have started to work with him.
“Number one is how to look after the horse’s best interests, his welfare and care and give him what he deserves in life after a magnificent racing career. If a horse is going to reach Olympic level, they really need to start their education when they are young, sort of four or five-year-olds.”
Breisner, often used by trainers to get to the bottom of problem racehorses, coaches Collett on a very regular basis. He was put in touch with Smith by Di Arbuthnot, chief executive of the Retraining of Racehorses charity, which is affiliated with the British Horseracing Authority.
“It is all about life after racing. A lot of people do take these horses on and give them a second career, whether it’s in the show ring, or the polo field or eventing or hunting or simply just happy hacking,” she said. “Neptune Collonges, the Grand National winner, has been doing some dressage and Monet’s Garden has been in the show ring up in the North.”
Eventing legend Mark Todd also believes Kauto Star will struggle to be rated a top-level dressage horse, but expects the veteran to thrive on a new activity.
“He’s not old at 12, and it’s nice he will be able to do something, as horses don’t want to be bored. I retired Charisma (a double gold medal winner at the Olympics in the 1980s) at 16, and he didn’t want to be just stuck out in a field,” he said.
“I’ve seen Kauto Star racing, he was an exceptional horse. I think it’s unlikely he’ll hit the heights at dressage but he’s in good hands, he’ll be well looked after, and they will work out whether dressage is something they can do.”
Meanwhile the deteriorating relationship between Smith and Nicholls took on a new twist when the owner expressed his surprise at the trainer’s hastiness in asking for Kauto Star to be removed from his Ditcheat stable on Tuesday.
Smith said that Nicholls had been fully briefed on future plans for the superstar gelding. “When Paul rang me I was on the runway heading to New York and he dropped the bombshell,” he said. “Paul Nicholls has made out he didn’t know anything about it, but I’ve kept him informed since May.
“We talked about eventing and he knew eventually he would be doing something away from the yard.
“I agreed to put him back into training but we made the decision on October 31 to retire him.
“We agreed he could stay at the yard until Boxing Day, but at Sandown on Saturday, I told him the dressage thing was coming about.”
Frozen ground has led to the abandonment of today’s cards at Ludlow and Huntingdon, though the latter’s top-class Peterborough Chase could be restaged by the BHA.