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."
10 March 2014Injured Maguire out of Festival
Maguire airlifted to hospital
Judgement day beckons for Fly
Curtis wants Scholfield for Tea
Que takes aim at Festival landmark
Irving strives to rule Supreme
Clouds lined up for RSA
Gold hopes fading for Topper
Champagne in sparkling form
Sire spearheads Queen Mother entry
Ruby ready to Rock
Confidence behind Conor
Special One bids for Champion glory
Suspensory problem sidelines Chris
Mullins 'very happy' with Fly
Cooper raring to go after fall
National glee for supersub Mullins
Francome fancies New One revenge
Quinn targets another Triumph
Buck's primed for World title bid
Cheltenham team monitor ground
Fenton delays Instalment call
Activial to duck Festival mission
Hope springs eternal for Encore
Fab Fly takes on eight in Champion
9 March 2014Fall leaves Cooper 'badly winded'
Cooper warms up with double
Cooper warms up with double
Avenue roads lead to Irish Oaks
Dude's the main man
Top trainers reject watering
Hinterland takes Champion test
Baltimore sets up bonus bid
Warrior wins Trial battle
Fallon hits Meydan heights
Chartreux bounces back to best
Brave Vic has Final word
Soumillon strikes on super Shea
On His Own joins Gold Cup field
8 March 2014Queally hits Sandown target
Briar tops Bartlett contenders
Calipto leads Triumph hopefuls
Ginge fires burn brightly for Neild
Creek forced out of Gold Cup
Milan targeting Final glory
McCoy to miss Sunday and Monday
Exchange rate pays dividend
Temps doubtful for Festival
Conor settles in at Cheltenham
De Bromhead sweet on Special
Epsom to honour St Nick
Mullins dominates JLT entries
Al and Dynaste top Ryanair field
Big two lead World possibles
7 March 2014Lockinge target for Tonto
All set for a super Saturday
Silver aiming to shine
Imperial only thought for Honeyball
Distance fears for Highland
Montiridge preps for Dubai trip
Ayr gets go-ahead
Ayr delay inspection decision
Benbulben misses Cheltenham
Card 'gut wrencher' for Tizzard
Guard stands tall for new record
Faugheen looms over Neptune field
Ballycasey stands firm in RSA
Sire spearheads Queen Mother list
Australia still in Derby shake-up
Henderson perfectly happy with Tent
Regal leads the way in Imperial