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14 Feb 2011 | 19:15
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Garden tale brings Christmas cheerHeadlines
Monet's Garden

After a superb racing career was brought to an abrupt end by a fight for his life, Monet's Garden is loving life in retirement under the watchful eye of his proud trainer Nicky Richards.

One of the most popular chasers of the last decade, the dashing grey won 17 races for the Greystoke handler and is best remembered for some scintillating displays of front-running and jumping at Aintree.

In all Monet's Garden won five times at the famous Merseyside circuit, registering three victories in the Old Roan Chase and even beating Kauto Star, but little did connections know the hat-trick strike in 2010 would be his final competitive appearance.

Shortly after that triumphant display, he was found to suffering an abscess on his foot and after that developed into a serious infection, Richards revealed in early 2011 it would be an "uphill struggle" for a 13-year-old Monet's Garden to survive.

However, the veteran refused to be beaten and after a lengthy rehabilitation at Oaklands Veterinary Centre in Cleveland, he was allowed to return to his Penrith base.

He has gradually been nursed back to health by the trainer's daughter, Joey Richards, his long-time friend and groom, and taking part in some show classes.

He also returned to Aintree to parade before the Old Roan Chase at Aintree in October, which now rightly carries his name in its title.

"He's doing all right the old boy and he hasn't been forgotten about I can assure you," said Richards.

"He's still getting Christmas cards and letters. He's in grand form with himself and enjoying life. He can't do much at the moment because the weather is so bad, but when the weather is nice he has a wander up the village in Greystoke and he does a bit of light exercise with Joey.

"He'll probably go and do a bit of showing in the spring when the weather picks up, but because of the injury he had, we just have to be a bit careful with him. He just does it for a bit of fun, a day out and to get a bit of sun on his back."

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