Declan Phelan's Irish Pointers in One Jump Ahead continue in excellent form with Deisa Aba winning on his Rules debut at Chepstow on Wednesday. The Mahler gelding, who was bought for £66,000 in May having won his sole point, was well supported beforehand (11/1 into 13/2) in the two miles three maiden hurdle. Fitted with a hood and partnered by Richard Johnson, the five year old travelled smoothly before taking over before the third last. Although he had to be shaken up after the last, he always looked in control before recording a a length and a quarter win from Queenohearts with the pair ten lengths clear of the third and favourite Know The Score. Trevor Hemmings and Philip Hobbs have a nice long-term prospect on their hands.
The most disappointing performance of the day came from Senor Lombardy on his chasing debut at Hexham. Keith Dalgleish's former pointer was useful over timber last season but is expected to develop into an even better chaser but he was in trouble a long way from home and trailed in a well beaten last of four finishers. He is a lot better than he showed at the Northumberland track.
The most frustrating performance of the day belonged to Felicidad in the junior bumper at Warwick. Nick Williams' filly was a fast finishing runner-up at Market Rasen on her British debut last month when set plenty to do. On this occasion, the Racinger filly was in front from the outset before getting run out of it late on. Beaten a length and a half, she would have prevailed with a bit more assistance from the saddle. She is a decent filly and could be the sort to go well in the Listed four year old bumper at Cheltenham on New Year's day with her sex allowance.
Sad news broke on Wednesday that Monet's Garden had passed away at the age of 20. One of the best horses trained in the North this century, the Roselier gelding won 17 of his 32 races earning over £683,000 in prize-money. The popular grey won three Grade 1 chases, including the Ascot Chase twice. He also won the Old Roan Chase on three occasions lowering the colours of the mighty Kauto Star in 2007. I was lucky enough to see him race on a number of occasions, including when winning the Grade 2 Liverpool Hurdle at Aintree in 2005, which was one of his first significant victories and on a day when his trainer Nicky Richards sent out a treble. A terrific jumper, I also remember being at Carlisle when he beat French raider Mid Dancer in the Colin Parker Memorial Chase in October 2006. A five times winner at Aintree, he finished runner-up in the Arkle Trophy at the Cheltenham Festival, but produced his best performances on flatter track. The last time I saw Monet's Garden was at Aintree last month when he was paraded in the parade for the Grade 2 Old Roan Chase which is now named after him. He was a tremendous horse who provided an awful lot of pleasure to an awful lot of people.
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