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Monet's Garden fighting for his life; Foot injury leaves popular grey with 'uphill struggle': 'He's in good hands, as good as any in country'.

Byline: David Baxter

MONET'S GARDEN, one of the most popular chasers of recent times, was battling for his life yesterday after suffering complications from a foot injury.

The 13-year-old grey picked up the problem after his third Old Roan Chase victory at Aintree in October, with an infection taking root in a bone in his off-fore hoof.

Owner David Wesley Yates admitted Monet's Garden's prospects "don't look good" despite the horse being well in himself. "He's been having treatment at Oaklands Veterinary Centre for several weeks. He was lame in his off-fore after winning at Aintree and there is an infection that has spread to the bone [navicular] in his hoof," said Yates.

"It's looking very doubtful. He's a fighter, it's in his nature, and he is well and eating. He has a special shoe on the foot, which is designed to keep pressure off, and we keep hoping it will heal."

Trainer Nicky Richards spoke of the yard's devastation at the prospect of losing their stable star, who has been with them since started his racing career almost eight years ago. Richards, whose daughter Joey is Monet's Garden's groom, said the infection had materialised slowly. "We're not quite sure how and when it happened. He couldn't have got it in a worse place on his body. Where it is you would have thought he would have gone lame very quickly, but it's just got worse and worse and it's been a nightmare," he said. Richards had special praise for vet Caroline Blakiston, one of the team at Oaklands, based at Yarm in Cleveland. She is doing an "absolutely fantastic job" in trying to heal Monet's Garden, he said. "He's in good hands, as good as any in the country. What they have done with him and are trying to do is brilliant. We had a blacksmith fit a specialist shoe and that seems to have been a success - it's taken a lot of the pressure off the hoof. But he's got an uphill struggle on his hands." A perennial fixture in the top chases between 2m4f and 3m, Monet's Garden will not race again if he wins his battle for life. He won 17 of his 32 starts and amassed more than pounds 680,000 in prize-money, earning an army of fans with his never-say-die attitude and impeccable jumping. Along with his three Old Roan victories, Monet's Garden also scored three times in Grade 1 races - in the Melling Chase at Aintree and twice in the Ascot Chase. In all, he won ten times in Graded company over hurdles and fences. Although the grey failed to win at the Cheltenham Festival in three attempts, Yates and Richards agreed that his length-and-a-quarter second to Voy Por Ustedes in the 2006 Arkle Chase was the best performance of his career. Richards said: "He gave Voy Por Ustedes five pounds and was just beaten. That was a great race, as it was when he beat that good French horse [Mid Dancer] at Carlisle, and he also beat Kauto Star [in the 2007 Old Roan Chase]. "There have been many great days. He was a high-class racehorse from the 'He's in good hands, as good as any in country' day he stepped on the racetrack. He mixed it with the best and put up some fantastic performances." Yates added: "We have had him for nine years. We bought him as a fouryear- old at the Derby sales in Ireland and he's been a star for me, Nicky and the yard." Senior figures in racing sent their best wishes to Monet's Garden yesterday, with champion trainer Paul Nicholls and jockey Robert Thornton tweeting their goodwill. Nicholls said: "All good wishes for Monet's Garden. Never see a tougher, more genuine horse." Thornton tweeted: "Sad news that Monet's Garden has been forced to retire. Best wishes to all his connections, hope he recovers." WHAT YOU'RE SAYING ON RACINGPOST.COM jjCome on old lad, fight it, I know you will. We're all willing you to recover and have a long and happy retirement. You deserve it. angiesproule jjVery sad news. I hope he pulls through. I will always remember that amazing race against Voy Por Ustedes in the Arkle - he led most of the way and jumped them ragged. davenport75 jjKeep fighting old lad, you deserve all the best in your retirement. You brought me so much pleasure and your last race will always stay with me - the way you answered every call from your rider. paul 19 jjSo upset to hear the news of this wonderful horse. I have many happy memories of watching him gallop and jump, always willing to do his utmost to win. I so hope he pulls through. ambooth jjCome on Monet's, you're a winner and you can't let this beat you. dawnspooner jjSo shocked to see this news. I hope to God he pulls through. He's been a great favourite of mine and it will be so sad if he goes out this way. A big thanks to the stable lass who is looking after him. cmwalker jjRelive Monet's Garden's third Old Roan Chase victory on RPTV - and view his career in pictures with our dedicated photo gallery on racingpost.com/photos jjOne last fight old boy, this is the one that really counts. You mean so much to so many and you deserve a long and happy retirement. dwirth jjI am sure everything possible is being done and I so want him to get better. I wish everybody all the best of luck. He is a wonderful horse. royalfalcon jjI've had a horse with the same problem, infection was so bad it went into the pedal bone. It was operated on to remove the infection and left a huge hole and took seven months of box rest and dressing changes to heal, but my mare went on to recover and win. Secretejo

CAPTION(S):

Monet's Garden with his groom Joey Richards, the daughter of trainer Nicky Richards, and (left) the site of the problem in the navicular bone of his hoof
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Jan 5, 2011
Words:1011
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