Popular chaser Kauto Star is back in his stable in Ditcheat, ready for a new training season.
The 12-year-old was on show at Paul Nicholls’ owners’ day at the weekend (2 September), where the trainer confirmed that a decision is yet to be made on the gelding’s future in racing.
Kauto, who has won a record 16 Grade Ones, will be ridden over the next few weeks but connections will decide in a month whether he will run again.
“It was fantastic to see him at the weekend so well,” owner Clive Smith told H&H. “He was jumping around like a four or five-year-old. He’s in great shape but we’ll have to to see what happens and we’ll talk about it in a few weeks. If he’s fit and well we’d be keen for a run, but it would be absolutely dreadful for anything to happen to him.
“I met a lot of people this summer and everyone asks after him, and most say they want him retired. There’s a lot of pressure and it’s a hard decision. But horses are precious animals and accidents can happen anywhere – on the racecourse, in a field or on the gallops.
“He’s an athletic horse and so if retirement was the case, I’d want him to do something active – he’s not the type of horse you could just put in a field. But he’s on great form so we’ll see how he goes.”
If he is to run, it will likely be in the King George VI Chase at Kempton, which he won for a record five times in December 2011. He will not be aimed at Cheltenham.
Nicholls stressed that the horse’s well-being will be at the forefront of any decisions, adding: “We won’t be taking any risks with him.”
On Sunday it was also confirmed that Clive Smith’s other star racehorse, dual Champion Chase winner Master Minded, has now been officially retired, as expected.
The nine-year-old, who has won eight Grade Ones struck into himself and severely damaged a tendon during the King George VI.
“Master Minded was very seriously injured,” said Clive. “He’s not able to do very much at all, but he’s now at Woodhouse’s [former Wincanton racecourse chairman Mark and his wife Tessa] enjoying himself and keeping Rigmarole [the Woodhouse’s ex-racehorse] company.
“It’s such a shame all this has happened, he’s a great horse and a lovely character.”