Five-times King George VI Chase winner Kauto Star will be parading at Kempton today (26 December) — alongside new rider, eventer Laura Collett.
Kauto arrived at Laura’s yard in Membury, Wiltshire on 11 December, and he’s already making himself at home. Alongside Yogi Breisner Laura will be preparing him for a potential second career in dressage.
“He’s settled in really well; he’s really relaxed and calm. He’s done a bit of gentle schooling and been hacking round the estate a couple of times — just pootling about really,” Laura told H&H.
“He loves cuddles and polos — he’s clearly used to having all the attention. He fits in really well here and you wouldn’t know he was the new boy.
“It was nerve-racking getting on him the first time — I couldn’t believe I was riding Kauto Star! Paul Nicholls told me he was very fresh and that he had bucked Clifford Baker [head lad and Kauto's regular rider] off for the first time ever the week before. But he was great and I just couldn’t stop smiling. I can’t believe he’s here.”
Laura said there were no definite plans for his future as yet, except that he would be leading up the horses before the King George.
“The main thing is for him to enjoy himself,” she added. “He’s not going to be put under any pressure. No one’s expecting anything – we’ll just see how it goes. It wasn’t sensible for him to go to a pure dressage yard where people might not be used to fairly fit racehorses. Clive [Smith, his owner] wanted to make sure he’d be with people who could cope with a horse like that.
Earlier this month it was announced that the popular gelding would be leaving his home at Paul Nicholls’ Somerset yard earlier than expected, to start a new career with Laura. Which caused quite the stir among racing fans and the press.
“We were all surprised at the reaction,” said Laura. “Perhaps we didn’t realise how much the public adored him and how much they felt he was their horse.”