Laura Collett has enjoyed her first experience of riding Kauto Star as she prepares to assess his suitability for a potential dressage career.
The retired National Hunt superstar, who won five King Georges and two Cheltenham Gold Cups, was required to make an early departure from his stable in Somerset after a difference of opinions between trainer Paul Nicholls and owner Clive Smith.
While Nicholls hoped Kauto Star could remain with the staff at Manor Farm Stables in Ditcheat, Smith felt Kauto Star should try a new discipline and asked Collett, a decorated event rider at junior levels and aspiring Olympian for 2016, to work with the gelding along with long-time British manager and coach Yogi Breisner.
The 22-year-old Collett received Kauto Star on Tuesday afternoon and tweeted on Wednesday morning: "I am officially the LUCKIEST girl in the world right now.... I have just ridden Kauto Star... He is a truly amazing horse... Felt like a fresh 4yo which is all credit to @PFNicholls and his team. I am honoured."
Breisner, who is 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.
Breisner was asked by Sky Sports News Radio about Kauto Star's attributes for potential success in the dressage arena.
He said: "This is up for us to assess at the moment. As we know he's had a fantastic racing career, he's been brilliantly trained and looked after by Mr Nicholls and his staff at Ditcheat and so this is just a matter of getting to see if he will settle into a different type of routine in life.
"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."
Breisner explained a little about what Kauto Star would be doing with Collett and himself, adding: "It's not a matter of putting him through anything at all really, it's just ride him away and see a little bit where we are with him and how he takes to a different routine. As a racehorse they go out in a string and they are worked very much to get them fit, etcetera and that routine will be slightly changed in that he would be doing work in an arena, and gentle exercises in that sort of way, and then we will see a little bit how we go after that."
Breisner did, however, scotch any suggestion Kauto Star could go on from winning a Cheltenham Gold Cup to an Olympic dressage medal, saying: "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. So it would be a tremendous exception if a horse could come out of retirement from racing and then go into an alternative career that was going to lead to Olympic level, never mind a medal, in any of the three disciplines."
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