©Healy Racing Photos
Kauto Star appears to have unexpectedly left the care of trainer Paul Nicholls as he prepares to embark on a possible dressage career.
Owner Clive Smith announced on Monday that the 12-year-old would be joining European bronze medalist eventing rider Laura Collett as he explores avenues to keep his now-retired superstar chaser active in retirement.
Collett, 22, is due to assisted by Yogi Breisner, the long-time Great Britain manager and coach, who has overseen medal success at Olympic, World and European level.
The five-times King George VI Chase hero and winner of the Betfair Chase four times was officially retired in October and Breisner will assess his suitability for the discipline in the coming weeks.
However, it was not thought that Kauto Star would leave Nicholls before Boxing Day, when he is due to lead the runners in the parade for the King George.
Collett tweeted: "I feel very privileged and extremely honoured to have been asked to ride Kauto Star.
"I will be working closely with Yogi to give Kauto Star the best chance of a second career in dressage."
Some members of the Ditcheat team have expressed their sadness at the horse's departure.
Donna Blake, travelling head girl for Nicholls, tweeted: "Farewell to our dear kauto star, sad day that he is leaving those a who genuinely care and respect him. Undeserved."
Nicholls subsequently retweeted the remark.