I was made up yesterday to find that the Aintree executive are to honour the Liverpool track’s most recent hero- Monet’s Garden. Here is the full story from the Sportinglife:
Aintree’s Betfred Old Roan Chase will be named in honour of Monet’s Garden.
One of the most popular chasers of recent times, the dashing grey etched his name into Aintree folklore with three wins in the race.
Trained by Nicky Richards and owned by David Wesley Yates, he beat dual Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup victor Kauto Star in 2007 and produced a superb round of jumping to take the spoils again two years later.
Monet’s Garden treated his fans once again in 2010 with another faultless display as he made every yard of the running to gamely beat Poquelin by half a length.
That proved to be his final racecourse appearance as the horse battled against a life-threatening hoof infection shortly afterwards. Following months of rehabilitation at Oaklands Veterinary Centre in Yarm, North Yorkshire, and at Richards’ Cumbrian stables, the 13-year-old has made a full recovery and is set to parade at Aintree ahead of the Betfred Monet’s Garden Old Roan Chase.
In an illustrious career, he won 17 times from 32 starts and finished out of the first four on only seven occasions.
Richards commented: “I am delighted that the Old Roan Chase will be run in honour of Monet’s Garden. It’s great news for myself, David, my daughter Joey and the old horse himself.
“He looks grand at the moment and hopefully he will head to Aintree to parade in front of the crowds. It’s been well documented how close we came to losing the old boy last winter but he’s full of beans now
“The response that we have received since Monet’s Garden got injured has been tremendous. It’s quietened off a little bit now but we still get cards in the post most weeks.
“Every time I go racing, people from all walks of life come up to me and ask about him, which is fantastic.”
Chris Cook of The Guardian wrote an excellent article last night about the new whip rules and the first day of reaction and implementation at Huntingdon yesterday:
It was a canny move by the British Horseracing Authority to include a supportive quote from Tony McCoy when they published their tough new whip rules a fortnight ago. “I hope my colleagues embrace the proposed changes,” he was reported to have said but, when allowed to speak for himself here on Tuesday, the champion jumps jockey showed that his feelings on the matter are much more nuanced, not to say doubtful.
“It’s not right in competitive racing,” was his instant verdict after driving Lost Glory to win by a nose in a handicap hurdle, when he and Brian Harding on the runner-up were making obvious efforts to use their whips sparingly.
Even so, both men brushed up against the new limits, in use for the first time at a jumps meeting, with four strokes each on the run-in and six in total, while the rules allow for five and eight respectively.
“I know everyone says it’s easy to count but, if you’ve got any bit of will to win in your head, it’s not,” McCoy said. Harding, who had been in front until the final stride, felt that his need to abide by new restrictions had “probably cost me the race” because his mount had been idling after the final flight.
McCoy takes his responsibilities very seriously (“Everyone should support the rules, certainly me,” he told one reporter on arrival at the track) but those in the weighing room after this race saw a man torn between the need to say the right thing and an almost tangible desire to vent his frustrations.
“People say that, even with the new rules, there’s still going to be a winner,” he said. “But three-mile chases on heavy ground at staying tracks, it’s going to be a poor spectacle.” McCoy stressed the padded qualities of the modern whips, which should prevent horses from suffering pain through their use. “I’m very aware that the perception of the sport is very important but I swear to God … my daughter’s the most important thing in the world and I guarantee she wouldn’t mind me tapping her on the leg with it.
“It’s a noise effect. I tell you what, if I could put my thigh out in front [of the saddle] and let it slap down my thigh instead, I would do. We are aware that the rules had to be changed and I support them but there has to be a little room for a bit of tinkering because they’re not perfect yet. There are certain things that a lot of lads are not happy with.”
This was understood to be a reference to the fact that jockeys who breach the rules are punished not only with a lengthy riding suspension but also lose their fee and any prize money for the race in question. Forfeiture of the fee seems an especially contentious subject, being repeatedly mentioned by jockeys here during the afternoon, even though no bans were issued.
“We can understand the pressure the BHA are under but we weren’t expecting to lose our fee nor our percentage,” said Andrew Tinkler after winning on Ostland. “We feel as a group that there could be more leniency. It’s the only job where we get followed by an ambulance and it’s the only job where we don’t get paid if we try too hard.”
“We could live with the whip rules, it’s just the financial problem,” said Denis O’Regan, successful on Bedouin Bay. “Taking the riding fee is just not on. A ban is just fine. Five days and anything over that is enough for anyone. It’s going to cost us at least three to five grand, missing out that many days.”
O’Regan said he would “keep his own counsel” as to the whip restrictions until he had had more of a chance to ride within them. “Everything has to be given a go. I’m not saying they’re right or wrong for now. If I can get away without hitting a horse at all, I’ll try and do that. I’ll have to change my riding style a little bit but not a whole lot. “
Paul Moloney was the only winning jockey to use his whip the maximum number of times allowed when scoring by three parts of a length on Tayarat in the opening handicap hurdle. Though he had tried to keep count during the race, he still anxiously sought reassurance on dismounting.
“Did you watch that?” he asked reporters. “Did I …?” Told that his whip count was exactly eight, he said: “I wasn’t 100% sure. I’m still walking on eggshells.”
But the trainer Ferdy Murphy had no sympathy for any jockeys opposed to the new rules. “I think they’re absolutely fantastic,” he said, “and, if the jockeys are complaining about it, they want to go back to school and learn to count.
“My opinion is, in 100 races, you might have one horse that wouldn’t win because of the whip rules. [Resistance from jockeys] is the absolute biggest load of bollocks. They’re sitting in there like glorified gods, they need to get on and get on with it. The BHA have been absolutely fantastic. They’ve been incredibly fair.”
Today’s fancies are at Wetherby:
2.20 Weth- William Haigh & Residence & Spa (e/w).
2.50 Weth- Hurricane Jack & Gunner Rose (e/w).
3.25 Weth- Gentleman Jeff & Teenage Idol (e/w).
3.55 Weth- Border Reiver & Safari Adventures (e/w).
4.30 Weth- Pampelonne (e/w).
5.00 Weth- Blenheim Brook (win).
5.30 Weth- Zaplamation (e/w).
6.00 Weth- Tower (e/w).
Hoping I don’t get sent to The Hague for tips against humanity! 😉