Kauto on parade at Cheltenham
Kauto Star will be appreciated as a champion by the Cheltenham faithful when he returns to lead out the Gold Cup field on Friday.
Much has occurred since the career of the finest chaser in almost half a century drew to a close, and he looked set to spend his retirement with personal appearances and lazy days in Somerset.
It is understandable to sympathise with Paul Nicholls, his head lad Clifford Baker and the staff at Ditcheat who had spent long winters nurturing the horse and hoped he could remain with them.
But while the enjoyment and achievement he provided for Clive Smith far outweighs sheer financial gain, Kauto Star is still his property after he paid an estimated £280,000 for him in the first place.
What had been a simmering feud between trainer and owner bubbled over into the public domain when Smith announced the 16-times Grade One winner would be trying out dressage and he was summarily removed from Nicholls' stable and placed into the care of Laura Collett.
Argument went into overdrive on social networks and forums amid side-taking and misguided anthropomorphism, and neither of the interested parties emerged with any great dignity.
Primarily, though, it must be remembered this was not a prized animal being taken into the care of amateurs.
Collett just missed out on a three-day eventing spot at the London Olympics and is being offered regular assistance by Yogi Breisner, the avuncular chief of the British team who serves as its equivalent to Sir Dave Brailsford, aggregating marginal gains from four legs rather than wheels.
While Collett, particularly, has seen her profile soar in a different arena, neither would want to damage their careers by working with an inappropriate horse, and pushing Kauto Star too far would be disastrous.
The 23-year-old rider still seems to be relishing her opportunity, and work is going well at Kauto Star's new home on the Membury Estate in Wiltshire.
"He's a very intelligent horse and he seems to learn things very quickly," she explains.
"That's not always the case with ex-jumpers we have worked with, even ones who have had far shorter careers than him, and it makes my life a lot easier!"
While it sounds difficult to describe the actual process of teaching the discipline, it is essentially laborious.
"It's very softly, softly," Collett says.
"He's not forced to do anything he doesn't want to do. He's very open to it and he appreciates the praise when he does something right. He doesn't seem to forget things, once he has done it once, it sticks in his mind.
"You have to repeat things day in, day out. He's building up, but the basics are the most important things to establish. You learn the foundations and build up different muscles before he could perhaps start learning some more."
Kauto Star might not have been an incarnation of Valegro as he gave the first public demonstration of his new skills around the paddock at Newbury earlier this month, but neither was he an equine John Sergeant or Ann Widdecombe floundering helplessly with their dancing footwork.
He was bred to race, rather than the double-Olympic gold winner, who comes from esteemed sports horse lineage and has spent most of his life being taught the art of dressage.
Looking sleeker than he was as a jumper, due to different exercise and nutrition, Kauto Star offered composed walks, trots and canter.
Only eight weeks into his tuition, Breisner reported he already has more to his repertoire, such as sideways movement, that he did not show off this time.
"He's not going to be a Grand Prix horse, but there's no reason why he can't learn more," Collett adds.
"The aim is if he is capable, he'll go for a few a competitions, but if he isn't, he won't. There's no pressure on him, as he doesn't owe anyone anything."
Smith admits to have become a dressage fanatic himself since also learning from scratch.
"I really love it," he says. "I wanted Kauto to be given the chance to be given an interest, do different things and use his brain.
"They say you can tell in a few days if they take to it, and he has just kept progressing.
"Yogi says he could be doing dressage when he's 25. He's only 13 and I think people are happier seeing him doing something."
It was never remotely realistic that Kauto Star would be performing at the Olympics himself, but his purpose now is of great importance. What happens to horses after they run their last race is the elephant in the room of this sport, and he can now serve as a nationally-known ambassador for retraining.