WHAT a truly sad and tawdry end to the story of Paul Nicholls, Kauto Star and a horse that – in his pomp – all but transcended National Hunt.
The breakdown of Nicholls' relationship with owner Clive Smith has become one of those unfathomably bitter exchanges that is difficult to reconcile with civilised adult behaviour.
Smith's decision to try to reinvent Kauto Star in dressage clearly incensed Nicholls who hoped the great horse might see out his days in happy retirement at Ditcheat.
According to Smith, the two men clashed at the trainer's open day in September. Revealing that Nicholls approached him "with a tirade of foul language." Smith adds: "He must have said it six times that he wanted the horse out of the yard."
Kauto Star eventually made a hurried departure from Nicholls' headquarters last Tuesday, with Smith also implying that Nicholls persistently ignored the 'u' when pronouncing the horse's name, knowing how much this annoyed the owner.
Body linguists will surely be on red alert in the paddock at Kempton on St Stephen's Day with Kauto Star due to parade before the King George.