“He’s left a large hole in the yard that will never be filled, there won’t be another one like him,” said Laura Collett as she paid tribute to Kauto Star after the legendary racehorse was put down yesterday (Monday 29 June).

“Kauto will be so missed, he was an absolute sweetheart,” she told H&H.

“He was easy to deal with day-in day-out and was a total pleasure and joy to do anything with.

“He was a huge character. Everyone knew he was king of the yard — he was always the centre of attention. Even if a visitor came to see another horse they’d stop by to see Kauto. He was amazing and he knew it, he’d light up when a camara was around.”

The record-breaking ex-racehorse sustained fractures to his neck and pelvis in the paddock on Wednesday (24 June) and after treatment at Valley Equine Hospital in Lambourn was put down.

Kauto Star, who won the Cheltenham Gold Cup twice (2007 and 2009) was trained in Somerset by Paul Nicholls during his racing career. Owned by Clive Smith, Kauto retired in October 2012 and moved to Laura’s yard in Lambourn where he was hacked and schooled frequently.

The 15-year-old gelding had been out in the paddock when the accident occurred. Connections are unsure exactly what happened — though they believe he might have tried to jump something.

Further complications — pneumonia and laminitis — developed and Kauto was put down.

“It’s tragic,” said Laura. “It was just a freak accident, no one could have prevented it.

“The vets did an amazing job, I couldn’t believe how much of a fighter he was. It’s like he wouldn’t admit anything was wrong — he was so strong. He was as perky at the end as he always had been.”

Kauto also won the King George VI Chase at Kempton a record five times.

“We wanted to keep his brain and body active in retirement. He was quite a character to ride though — sometimes he’d spook at things and the next day go past them fine, I think he did it to entertain himself,” added Laura.

“It was a huge honour to look after and ride him. He gave me some unbelievable experiences that I would never have had the opportunity to do otherwise — such as galloping up the straight at Kempton.

“One of my favourite memories was cantering behind Denman at Cheltenham, two Gold Cup legends. He was adored by the public.”