Owner Clive Smith spoke of being "extremely disappointed" in the reaction of trainer Paul Nicholls after Kauto Star's abrupt exit from the champion trainer's Ditcheat yard on Tuesday.
The winner of five King Georges and two Cheltenham Gold Cups for the owner and trainer, he had been officially retired in late October but was expected to remain at Manor Farm Stables in Somerset until Boxing Day, but he unexpectedly left Nicholls' care after Smith had announced on Monday that the 12-year-old would be moving away to be prepared by European bronze medalist eventing rider Laura Collett and long-time Great Britain manager and coach Yogi Breisner for a new career in the world of dressage.
"When Paul rang me I was on the runway heading to New York and he dropped the bombshell," Smith told Press Association Sport.
"The idea originally came about after talking to Di Arbuthnot of Retraining of Racehorses and she put me in touch with Yogi Breisner. Two weeks ago I had a coffee and a chat with Yogi and he suggested dressage and I was very impressed with the idea. Not that either of us thought he'd shown any previous inclination, it was just something new. Yogi suggested Laura Collett who is a European champion and a very good rider.
"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. I'm extremely disappointed in Paul Nicholls.
"We agreed about him leaving the yard and he even said Laura Collett could come and take away the horse. When I told him all this, he told me what a good job Neptune Collonges (Nicholls' 2012 Grand National winner) had done in dressage."
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