Kauto Star's new career in dressage

BBC Sport's Joe Wilson visits Kauto Star as he embarks on a new career in dressage.

Now residing at a stables in Wiltshire, the 12 year-old horse is set to appear at this year's Cheltenham Festival, but in a very different context.

His owner Clive Smith felt he might have ''got away'' with another run at the Gold Cup but felt it was far safer to move him into dressage, and now Kauto Star will be part of a parade of former champions at the course later this week.

The legendary racehorse, who took 23 victories in 41 races, including two Cheltenham Gold Cups, was retired from racing in October but jump racing fans may well notice the difference in him already, he has ''filled out'' having added the extra muscle needed for elements of dressage.

Eventing rider Laura Collett, who has been training him at her base in Wiltshire, says one of the biggest challenges has actually been trying to stop him running too fast.

"If you take a young horse who's done hardly anything its almost easier because they're not stuck in their ways. Whereas Kauto Star has got 8 or 9 years of only doing one thing so its very different, but he seems to be liking the challenge. The canter's been the most difficult thing because he's only known gallop, he wanted to go faster."

Those involved with ex-racehorses are also hoping that Kauto Star will become an example of what is possible for horse which leave professional training.

Last year around a thousand racehorses of varying age and experience were killed in abattoirs. Di Arbuthnot from the Retraining of Racehorses Charity says most of the animals should be suitable for a full and varied life whether in sport or as companions.

"Most are very capable and very adaptable, very intelligent and very versatile. They can do anything you ask of them."

Although Kauto Star began his dressage training too late in life to reach Olympic standard the head of Great Britain's Eventing team Yogi Breisner hopes that he might just inspire a younger horse to follow him.

"It would be a dream to see an ex-racehorse through the Retraining of Racehorses organisation coming through to represent us in Rio, but if you don't have a dream you can't have a dream come true! So fingers crossed."

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