Last straw for Monet's.
I WAS absolutely gutted to hear that the bonny grey Monet's Garden was fighting for his life this week after sustaining a foot infection.
A fixture in the top chases between 2m4f and 3m, monet's Garden will never race again, but at this stage, connections, and every punter who ever saw him go about his business, will be simply wishing the 13-year-old pulls through to enjoy the retirement he thoroughly deserves.
A winner of 17 of his 32 starts, raking in more than pounds 680,000 in prize-money, Monet's built up a massive following with his gutsy attitude and bold-jumping style.
He won ten times in Graded company over hurdles and fences, but could never crack the Cheltenham Festival, although his second to voy Por Ustedes (rec5lb) in the 2006 Arkle Chase was probably the best performance of his career.
I remember having the rent money on kauto star to beat him in the Old Roan three years ago at Aintree and when Monet's went about five clear three out under Tony Dobbin, I knew the writing was on the wall.
Sadly, last night, owner David Wesley Yates said: "He is stable and not getting any worse, but I'm afraid he isn't getting any better and the antibiotics are not working. We are clutching at straws and the next few days will be critical."
It's funny really how the punting public always have an affinity with greys. Desert orchid, one man, and my own favourite valiramix, whose career was tragically curtailed in the Hors Le Loi Champion Hurdle in 2002, have all earned their place in the public's heart.
Punters do, I believe, form an attachment to their favourites, and if anything should happen to them, it is indeed much like a bereavement in the family.
At Cheltenham last week, National Hunt lost another great favourite when joe Lively, (not grey) a 12-year-old, had to be put down after breaking a leg in front of the packed stands.
Jockey Joe Tizzard returned to the paddock in tears and said: "He's the only horse I've ever got emotional about."
Tragedies like that remind punters of the heavy price connections pay in a wonderful, but at times painfully cruel, sport.
HEART OF A LION: Monet's Garden and Tony Dobbing fly to another Old Roan victory