Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Richards' Hope Blooming Again

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Richards' Hope Blooming Again

Article excerpt

Byline: By Martin Kelly

Monet's Garden added his name to a star-studded roll of honour which includes the likes of Moscow Flyer, Viking Flagship and Direct Route, when landing the John Smith's Melling Chase at Aintree.

Trainer Nicky Richards wore a wide smile when welcoming the grey back to the winner's enclosure and described the 4-1 shot's three-and-a-half-length victory yesterday as a "big moment" in his training career.

The nine-year-old struck at the highest level at Ascot in February, but put in a lacklustre performance when a hot favourite for Cheltenham's Ryanair Chase.

He could only take fourth behind Taranis on that occasion, but comprehensively reversed the placings back on a galloping track and left that rival toiling in second. Monet's Garden attacked the majority of his fences with his usual enthusiasm and only had 4-5 market leader Well Chief to contend with after going on three from home.

But the David Pipe-trained Well Chief never really looked like landing a blow against the Greystoke charge and Tony Dobbin's mount kept up a relentless gallop to collect in stylish fashion.

"He didn't come home from Cheltenham 100% and he scoped dirty, but I don't want to take anything away from the horses who won that day," said Richards.

"This horse has changed so much in the last 10 days with some sun on his back. Fair play to his owner David Yates ( he wanted to come here but I was ready to rough him off after Cheltenham. Over two-and-a-half miles on a flat track it will take a fair horse to beat him. When he is good, he is very good."

His second victory in Grade One company over fences brings the curtain down on Monet's Garden's campaign, but a return to Aintree in the autumn is a distinct possibility.

Richards added: "He might start off back here in the Old Roan Chase in October and then go for the King George as three miles isn't a problem to him round Kempton.

"We went there last year thinking we were going to give Kauto Star a race and it didn't happen, but we will try again. This is a very big moment for me. It's at these places that you get remembered. …

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