LONDON (AP) — Having captured two Cheltenham Gold Cups, steeplechase great Kauto Star could soon be targeting Olympic gold medals after being sent by his owner for a month's training in dressage.
The 12-year-old Kauto Star, who was retired from racing in October, will be assessed by Laura Collett, a European bronze medalist in eventing, and Britain coach Yogi Breisner in the coming weeks regarding his suitability in dressage.
"I wanted him to have an interest — he's just too good to be a hack or to be out in a field," said owner Clive Smith. Neptune Collonges, the 2012 Grand National Steeplechase winner, and 1991 Cheltenham Gold Cup champion Garrison Savannah turned to dressage after successful careers in horseracing.
Kauto Star is one of Britain's most-loved and greatest racehorses, having also won the King George VI Chase a record five times and the Betfair Chase on four occasions. In total, he won 16 Grade 1 races.
"I feel very privileged and extremely honored to have been asked to ride Kauto Star," Collett, an Olympic hopeful, said in a Twitter post. "I will be working closely with Yogi to give Kauto Star the best chance of a second career in dressage."
Paul Nicholls, who trained Kauto Star for the past nine years, said he was unhappy not to have been consulted about the horse's life after racing. "I am fully aware that Kauto is Clive's horse and he can do as he wishes," Nicholls wrote on Tuesday in his column for racing website Betfair.
"But what upset me and my team here is when Clive announced that he had spoken to experts about the horse's future — but failed to consult and listen properly to the team that had looked after him here for the past nine years. That really upset us."
Kauto Star left Nicholls' stable in Somerset, southwest England, for the last time on Tuesday. "Good luck, old boy. You were the best — and deserve the best," Nicholls wrote.