Paddock injury claims life of famous OTTB Kauto Star

Kauto Star and Laura Collett.
Kauto Star and Laura Collett.

Britain’s most famous OTTB Kauto Star has died at the age of 15 after sustaining serious injuries in a fall in his paddock in Lambourn.

Ridden by British eventer Laura Collett since his retirement from racing in 2012, Kauto Star was the joint-third best steeplechaser of all time. Trained by Paul Nicholls, the French bred jumper was one of the greatest steeplechasers of all time.

Kauto Star injured himself in his paddock on June 24, and was taken to Valley Equine Hospital. It was revealed he had fractures at the base of his neck and pelvis, and despite treatment, continued to deteriorate. He was kept comfortable and out of pain, and the decision was made with his owner, Clive Smith, to euthanise him on Monday, June 29.

In her report, veterinarian Hattie Lawrence said:  “Three bones appear to have been fractured, the ilial shaft, tuber ischi and the greater trochanter of the femur.

“There also appears to have been a fracture to the spine at the base of the neck, probably between C6 and T2. This ultimately was the most significant injury as it produced the paralysis that made it impossible for him to stand.

Laura Collett and Kauto Star at Barbury on Saturday.
Laura Collett and Kauto Star during a display at Barbury Horse Trials in June, 2013.

“The secondary problems that contributed were pneumonia as a result of being cross tied and unable to put his head down, and laminitis which was the result of the toxins in his body and having to stand for so long.”

He was enjoying his semi-retirement at Collett’s yard, being trained for dressage, and taking part in demonstrations.

Owner Clive Smith said it was thought the horse had jumped something, then stumbled.

Collett said: “It was a freak accident. I wish I knew how or why he did it. He was in work and was turned out in the same field for a few hours every day – it is a part of all my horses’ routine.”

“He was an angel to look after and a real character to ride and be around. He knew he was the king as soon as he stepped on to the yard. He was an absolute legend.”

Kauto Star won 23 of his 41 races, and his 16 Group One wins included the King George VI Chase at Kempton Park on a record five occasions (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 & 2011), the Cheltenham Gold Cup twice (2007 & 2009), and he won the Betfair Chase in 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2011.

Kauto Star
Kauto Star. © Carnie

Nicholls said Kauto Star was a tricky horse to train. “He did sort of stupid things. I always said he had nine lives and sadly he’s run out of them.

“It’s obviously a very sad day and very sad news to take on board. He was like my best mate really.”

Jockey Ruby Walsh, who rode the horse in 27 of his races, said: “Kauto Star was a superstar and it’s a real shame that his life off the track has been cut short. He was a wonderful horse to ride and he gave me some of the best days I’ll ever have as a jockey.

“He was without a doubt the best chaser I’ve ever ridden – a horse in a lifetime. I’ll never ride one as good as him again. How could you? Just look at his record.”

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