Nicky Richards hailed Monet’s Garden as “everything you could want in a racehorse” following the death of the hugely-popular grey on Tuesday night, aged 20.
The Roselier gelding won 17 of his 32 starts under rules, including three victories in the Old Roan Chase at Aintree.
He claimed the notable scalp of the great Kauto Star when securing the first of his Old Roan triumphs in 2007, and the race has been named in his honour since his retirement seven years ago.
Monet's Gardens beats Kauto Star in the 2007 Old Roan Chase
Richards said: “Over the last fortnight we just felt he wasn’t quite himself and then yesterday he took a bit of a turn for the worse.
“The vet came out to see him at lunchtime and we gave him some painkillers around 5pm and hoped that would see him improve.
“I then went out to see him around 10pm and it was obvious things were going the wrong way, so the vet came back and examined him, we had a good chat and decided it wouldn’t be fair on the old horse to send him for more operations and what have you.”
Monet’s Garden was forced into retirement in 2011 after suffering a foot infection that led to him fighting for his life.
However, he eventually made a full recovery and made the last of several appearances at Aintree – alongside the trainer’s daughter Joey Richards, the horse’s long-time groom – on Old Roan Chase day less than a month ago.
The briliant grey wins a second Old Roan Chase in 2009. He won a third a year later on his final start
“My daughter is devastated, as you can imagine,” Richards continued.
“She was just saying he was in great form at Aintree a weeks ago, so at least he hasn’t suffered for long.
“It’s a miracle he came through that foot injury he had about seven years ago and he’s had a good time since.
“David (Yates, owner) has had a lot of pleasure out of him even since he retired, as he’s been to country shows and won a retired racehorse class and obviously been back to Aintree.”
Richards was in no doubt when asked where Monet’s Garden ranked in the horses he has trained.
RIP Monet’s Garden ❤— Racing UK (@racing_uk) November 21, 2018
🏇 Age: 20
🏇 Races: 32
🏇 Hurdles/fences jumped: 441 – no falls/unseats
🏇 Non-completions: 0
🏆 Wins: 17
🏆 Grade 1 wins: 3
🏆 Grade 2 wins: 7
🏇 Jump prowess: 11 out of 10
🏇 Prize-money: £683,265
🏇 Nicky Richards tribute >>> https://t.co/Yo863kgioA pic.twitter.com/ee9PRvXJCd
The Greystoke handler said: “He was very good at Aintree and beat Kauto Star there one day. He also won a couple of Ascot Chases, the Ascot Hurdle when it was run at Windsor and he also put that good French horse Mid Dancer in his place at Carlisle one day.
“He just had everything you could want in a racehorse. He could jump and gallop and was as game as a pebble.
“He’d have to be the best I’ve ever trained, for sure.”