The hugely popular chaser Monet’s Garden has died aged 20 after an illustrious career.
The eye-catching grey, trained by Nicky Richards, won 17 of his 32 starts and a had a large, loyal fanbase.
In a career that spanned seven seasons, Monet’s Garden notched up three Grade One victories between 2007 and 2010; two at Ascot and the 2007 Melling Chase at Aintree.
He is also something of an Aintree legend, three times winning the Old Roan Chase, which was renamed in honour of the horse’s success.
“We bought him at Fairyhouse at the Derby sale as a three-year-old and he has just been an absolute pleasure to have around,” Mr Richards told H&H.
“We knew he had a lot of ability early on. [Jockey] Brian Harding did a lot of the early work with him and schooling him, he did a great job.
“He was a super racehorse right from the start — he won his first ever race, a bumper at Ayr, and the rest is history.”
Mr Richards remembered the first time he saw the gelding, who was bred by William Delahunty in Ireland.
“I had gone to the sale with [agent] Gerry Griffin, the Derby sale is over two days, and David Wesley Yates [who was soon to be the horse’s owner] could only come for the first day,” he said.
“There were a couple we looked at, but we didn’t end up with anything on the first day, so Gerry said ‘let’s go and have a look at tomorrow’s lots’”.
“David came along with us and we went and found a few barns in Fairyhouse and the horse was about the third lot we looked at.
“He walked around the corner and straight away we said ‘he is the boy’. David had to come home for business and he left us a budget, which we went past, but David agreed to have him and it was probably the best decision of his!”
Mr Richards added one of his fondest racing memories of the horse was at Carlisle in 2006, when French chaser Mid Dancer was brought over to take him on.
“[Monet’s Garden] showed him a clean pair of heels!” he said.
He was ridden by Tony Dobbin for his first 23 races, winning 13 times. On Tony’s retirement from the saddle in April 2010, several other jockeys took on the ride, including Davy Condon, Richard Johnson, Barry Geraghty and Dougie Costello.
The horse was retired from racing aged 13 after winning his third Old Roan Chase at Aintree in October 2010 due to a complications arising from a foot abscess.
The navicular bone and flexor tendon became infected and the horse underwent a number of operations, but his outlook did not look hopeful and his connections were prepared for the worst.
But thanks to vets and the care he received at home, the horse pulled through and went on to have an active retirement with Mr Richards’ daughter, Joey.
“He was just a lovely horse, never nasty and he had a great temperament,” added Mr Richards.
“Joey started looking after him when he was a five-year-old and she was with him all the way though. She was absolutely brilliant with him, we nearly lost him, but for that miraculous recovery.”
Mr Richards also credited the vets involved and Mr Yates for persevering with the horse.
“As you can imagine the vet bills that were gathering were very expensive, but David was very insistent that he got the best treatment and money was never a problem. I’m quite sure a lot of people would not have gone as far as they did and he deserves great credit,” said Mr Richards.
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During his second career with Joey, Monet’s Garden enjoyed success in the show ring and took part in many Retraining of Racehorses (RoR) parades. He was crowned RoR Horse of the Year in 2016, which recognises the horse “judged to have been the best ambassador for the retraining of racehorses”.
Monet’s Garden was put down on Tuesday night (20 November).
Mr Richards said he and the vet believe he may have had a mini stroke.
“He just started to go downhill and wasn’t right in himself,” he said, adding they didn’t want to put the horse through extensive treatment at his age.
“It would have been an uphill battle and we thought ‘I think this is the right time’.”
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