Legendary chaser Monet's Garden has died at the age of 20
Monet's Garden, who became a hugely popular chaser thanks to his flamboyant jumping, has died at the age of 20.
Trained throughout his career by Nicky Richards, Monet's Garden scored three times at Grade 1 level and made history in Aintree's Old Roan Chase – now named after the gallant grey – with three wins between 2007 and 2010.
His public following swelled further in 2011 when he courageously fought against a life-threatening illness brought on by an infected hoof.
Speaking from his Cumbria base on Wednesday, Richards said: "It’s a sad day but he had a good life and, as everybody knows, he was very ill there for a while and he bounced back from that to have seven more good years.
"Everybody wants a horse like him. He was good, he was honest and he was bold. He was game, he could jump, he was a dream of a horse for anybody who had anything to do with him. Even the punter in the betting shops, they knew they were going to get a good run for their money. He was a fantastic horse."
Richards added: "He was very lucky to be owned by David Wesley Yates, who insisted on the very best of treatment for him and went on with the care long after many owners would have stopped. I think he got nearly as much pleasure out of Monet's Garden after his recovery as he did while he was racing.
"All the way through my vet, Paul May, as well as Caroline Blackiston when he was first ill, have cared for him like he was a baby."
Tony Dobbin rode Monet's Garden in his first 23 career starts and was in no doubt as to the gallant grey's qualities.
"He was just the sweetest animal, the best ride and one of the best jumpers I’ve ever sat on," said Dobbin. "He never fell, he was bold and he was quick, he could do everything.
"We had some great days around places like Aintree and he was a wonderful horse. I think the Ascot Chase [in 2007] was pretty special. Beating Kauto Star [in the 2007 Old Roan Chase] was great as well but it was a handicap and we were getting a stone off him so if we were ever going to beat him, that was the day. I can remember finishing second to Kauto on him at Ascot at level weights and that was a great performance."
After his retirement Monet's Garden was cared for by Richards' daughter Jo and the pair won a host of shows, culminating in the son of Roselier being named the Retraining of Racehorses horse of the year in 2016.
Monet's Garden's top-level successes came in the Ascot Chase of 2007 and again in 2010, along with the 2007 Melling Chase at Aintree.
Overall he won 17 times in a 32-race career that spanned seven seasons.
Wesley Yates said: "Every year with him was a great year, even in retirement. It was a pleasure to see him at Aintree parading before his race. I'd often visit him in the stable and even when he led the parade for the Old Roan Chase a few weeks ago, he looked fantastic.
"He won five times over hurdles but chasing was his real forte. He was very fond of Aintree, where the fences come thick and fast and which crucially is a flat track, which favoured him. Cheltenham probably didn’t suit him as well but he was only just beaten in an Arkle by Voy Por Ustedes giving weight."
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