Monet’s a picture

MONET’S GARDEN made a flawless start to his second season over fences when inflicting defeat on prolific French raider Mid Dancer in the Colin Parker Memorial Intermediate Chase at Carlisle yesterday.

Nicky Richards had earmarked the £10,000 contest as a starting point for his flashy grey ahead of a tilt at the prestigious King George VI Chase at Kempton on St Stephen's Day.

The eight-year-old, whose only defeat over fences last year came when finishing a close second in the Arkle, was already prominent in the betting for the Christmas showpiece but his two-and-a-half-length defeat of Mid Dancer saw him propelled to favouritism.

Sponsors Stan James now have him heading the market at 3-1 from 4s while Blue Square go 7-2, VC Bet 4-1 and bet365 a generous 5-1.

He faced only four rivals on his comeback but Mid Dancer was going to be no walkover, boasting an unbeaten record in France with his sole career defeat coming when finishing down the field in the Arkle.

But the Cumbrian racegoers were not swayed by Mid Dancer and sent local star Monet’s Garden off the 4-11 favourite to oblige under Tony Dobbin.

The jockey sent the market leader straight into the lead and he jumped from fence to fence throughout, putting in a spectacular leap five from home.

It was around this time that Mid Dancer started to take closer order but despite travelling well, the 7-2 shot did not have the gears to pick up Monet’s Garden in the closing stages and finished six lengths ahead of third-placed Omni Cosmo Touch.

Richards revealed his stable star was little more than 80 per cent fit and expects a great deal of improvement when he bids to evoke memories of his father’s dual King George winner One Man on December 26.

Richards said: “That wasn’t too bad. He jumped great but Tony said he wasn’t enjoying the ground.

“He doesn’t want that ground, he wants proper good ground like he got in the Arkle. He is a different horse on it.

“He can jump all right – he has got springs in his legs.

“We didn’t need the other horse being here but we had to get going. He blew up during the race and looked as big as a house before.

“We will take him home, sit back and get our feet on the ground now”.

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