WILTSHIRE eventer Laura Collett had her first ride on Kauto Star yesterday after the legendary racehorse’s arrival at her Membury Estate base.
The 22-year-old, who is based at the estate near Marlborough, will assess Kauto Star’s suitability for a potential dressage career.
The retired National Hunt superstar, who won five King Georges and two Cheltenham Gold Cups, left the Somerset stables of trainer Paul Nicholls on Tuesday.
While Nicholls hoped Kauto Star could remain with the staff at Manor Farm Stables in Ditcheat, owner Clive Smith felt Kauto Star should try a new discipline.
He asked aspiring 2016 Olympian Collett to work with the gelding along with long-time British manager and coach Yogi Breisner.
After the media frenzy surrounding the news, Collett was keeping her counsel yesterday.
But she told the Gazette & Herald: “All I can say is that I’m extremely excited to be given the opportunity to give him a suitable retirement. I’m very honoured.
“It is a massive honour to have been asked to look after him, and I feel very privileged to be in this position with such an amazing horse,” she said.
“I am looking after the horse and keeping him happy at the moment, and that is the most important thing right now.
“I have ridden him now and he was great to ride, and he is a very athletic horse who is fresh and well, and all the credit has to go to his trainer Paul Nicholls and his team for that.
“He has settled in very well and is eating everything up, and everyone is thrilled to have him here.
“We all feel very honoured and privileged to be looking after a horse like him, and we are all determined to do as good a job as we possibly can.
“Myself and Yogi Breisner are now trying to find a way for him to have a nice active retirement and possibly the chance of a second career, but it is very early days in that at the moment and we will not know anything for quite some time yet.”
After her first outing on the horse, she added on Twitter: “I am officially the luckiest girl in the world right now. I have just ridden Kauto Star. He is a truly amazing horse.
“I will be working closely with Yogi to give Kauto Star the best chance of a second career in dressage.’’
Smith said: “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.
Nicholls added: “I would just to like say that it was a privilege for us here at Ditcheat to train the horse. Good luck, old boy. You were the best – and deserve the best.’’
Collett added: "“It was only all confirmed when he was about to be delivered to the yard on Tuesday, but I had already had a chat with Yogi before that about the possibility, and when I was asked if I would be interested I said, ‘of course.’
“Then Clive Smith came to see the yard and the way it was left was that he was going to think about it, and he spoke to Paul Nicholls and since then it has all happened very quickly.
“My job is to ride the horse and do what is best for him, and not get involved in anything else.”
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