Kauto Star owner Smith lets rip in row with Nicholls after legend leaves trainer's yard
11:40 GMT, 13 December 2012
The depth of the bitterness behind the row over the retirement plans for superstar steeplechaser Kauto Star have been revealed by the horse's owner Clive Smith.
Smith says his association with trainer Paul Nicholls has broken down irretrievably and that the strain on their relationship stretched back to an argument at Nicholls' Open Day in September.
Smith, on holiday in New York, said: 'He came up to me with a tirade of foul language. He must have said it six times that he wanted the horse out of the yard then, never mind this Tuesday. What happened was the final straw.'
Breakdown: Kauto Star's owner Clive Smith (left) and trainer Paul Nicholls
He added in the Racing Post: 'On October 31, I had a final meeting with Paul. Kauto was in light training but it was confirmed he should be retired, as I'd wanted, but would stay in the yard until after the King George (at Kempton on Boxing Day).
'Then, a couple of weeks ago when I was at Haydock to unveil Kauto's statue, Paul bowled a googly at me, saying it would be right if he could stay at the yard with (head lad) Clifford Baker.
'I'd already spoken to Yogi Breisner (performance director of Britain's Olympic eventing team) and he said it was no good having a top-class horse in a yard like that where he's a hack.
'I'm sure Clifford Baker would do a wonderful job and he'd be lovely for him but I always thought I was the owner.
'I didn't see him enough anyway because I'm 100 miles away. As the owner I'm entitled to some time with him.'
Fans' favourite: Clifford Baker rides Kauto Star for the crowd at Haydock
Smith said he had been phoned by Nicholls and informed of his intention to remove the Kauto Star form his stable on Tuesday while he was on the runway at Heathrow about to embark.
He also laid bare his irritation at their difference in opinion in how to pronounce the horse's name. The trainer has always said 'Kato'.
Smith added: 'To be honest I was disappointed from early on that Paul didn't pronounce Kauto's name correctly. There was no excuse but he did not back off.'
In response, Nicholls said: 'I strongly refute these allegations but the last thing I want to do is to become involved in a war of words with Clive. I have wished him all the best and have no further comment to make.'
Legend: Kauto Star won the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2007 and 2009
Kauto Star, the dual Cheltenham Gold Cup winner left the Nicholls' Somerset yard amid scenes of distress and expressions of bitterness among staff.
Nicholls said he realised that Smith planned to remove the horse and saw no reason to further delay with the hiatus causing distraction to his upset staff.
Kauto Star has joined Berkshire-based international event rider Laura Collett who, with Breisner, is assessing the best retirement plan for the 12-year-old. One option is Dressage.
Smith, who no longer has any horse in training with Nicholls, has said Kauto Star will still parade at Kempton on Boxing Day, although he will not be ridden by Baker as had been planned.
Crazy for Kempton: Kauto Star won the King George five times