Racing: Leg fracture heightens Kauto Star controversy

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The Independent Online
KUATO STAR, the horse involved in Ruby Walsh's remarkable without- stirrups rodeo ride to near-victory after falling in a novices' chase at Exeter on Monday, picked up an injury in the incident and will not run again until next season.

Paul Nicholls, the horse's trainer, revealed yesterday that the five- year-old, who crashed to the ground two fences from home, was remounted and failed by a short-head to catch the winner Mistral de la Cour, fractured a hind-leg.

The Clive Smith-owned French-bred, who won impressively on his British debut at Newbury in December, had been hot ante-post favourite for the Arkle Trophy, the two-mile novices crown at next month's Cheltenham Festival. "He was stiff and sore after Monday," said Nicholls, "and for my peace of mind I decided to have him x-rayed. It showed a small fracture to a hind-leg. It's not major, but enough to keep him out for the rest of the season.

"I have spoken to his owner and we have no option but to box rest him until he is over his injury and that's it for the season. It's very disappointing for us as he would have had a big chance [in the Arkle] but we've still got a horse for the future."

Some would say luckily. Walsh's competitive spirit and horsemanship are beyond gainsaying but his effort on Monday drew criticism from animal welfare groups, who would like the Jockey Club to ban jockeys from remounting and continuing after a horse has fallen, a rule that is in force in eventing.

"A human being can make up his or her mind whether he or she can go on but a horse has to rely on a human being," said RSPCA equine consultant David Muir. "That's where we would suggest that if a horse goes down, off its legs, that should be an end to it."

The RSPCA stance is backed by some trainers, including Henrietta Knight. Under current rules a jockey has discretion whether or not to remount and the stewards can take action against any who perseveres on a lame or exhausted horse. After Kauto Star got to his feet on Monday he trotted away apparently sound, and showed no signs of lameness when led out on Tuesday.

After riding Beef Or Salmon to victory in the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown last month, Paul Carberry is to keep the plum ride on the nine-year-old for Sunday's Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup back at the Co Dublin track and for the Gold Cup, for which the Michael Hourigan-trained gelding is second favourite.

Beef Or Salmon's previous regular rider Timmy Murphy is retained by David Johnson, who is likely to have a Gold Cup runner.