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Aintree Agenda For Star Nicky Richards Duo
03/04/07

Nicky Richards and Monet's Garden

Nicky Richards and Monet's Garden

Trainer Nicky Richards could bid for a big race double with stable stars Turpin Green and Monet’s Garden at the three-day John Smith’s Grand National meeting, which commences on Thursday, April 12, 2007 - the highlight of which is the £700,000 Grade Three John Smith’s Grand National on Saturday, April 14.

The Greystoke handler revealed today: “Hopefully Turpin Green will go to Aintree for the Betfair Bowl and we’ll see how Monet’s Garden is over the next week before we make any firm decisions about him going for the John Smith’s Melling Chase.”

The three miles, one furlong £150,000 Grade Two Betfair Bowl (2.35pm) takes place on Thursday, April, 12, while the £200,000 Grade One John Smith’s Melling Chase (3.10pm), run over two and a half miles, is held on Friday, April 13.

Turpin Green thrilled Richards when finishing third to the brilliant Kauto Star at odds of 40/1 in the totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup on March 16, an effort that justified the trainer’s faith in his talented charge.

The trainer commented: “A lot of people doubted Turpin Green and knocked him but we never doubted him at Greystoke and he showed everybody what he’s capable of by running a blinder at Cheltenham.”

The Trevor Hemmings-owned eight-year-old has already tasted big race glory at the Aintree Festival, having defeated My Way De Solzen by six lengths when winning the 2005 Grade Two John Smith’s Mersey Novices’ Hurdle. He was also runner-up to Star De Mohaison in last year’s Grade Two John Smith’s Mildmay Novices’ Chase over the course and distance.

A positive Richards added: “He seems to have come out the Gold Cup well and is in grand form.”

The Betfair Bowl went to the Martin Pipe-trained Celestial Gold in 2006 and has also been won in the past by horses of the highest calibre such as Desert Orchid (1988), Wayward Lad (1985 & 1987), See More Business (2000), First Gold (2001 & 2003) and Florida Pearl (2002).

Monet’s Garden, who won the Grade Two John Smith’s Liverpool Hurdle over an extended three miles in 2005, could bid to secure the second Aintree Festival success of his career over half a mile shorter.

Richards reported today: “If Monet’s Garden runs at Aintree it will be in the Melling Chase over two and a half miles.”

The nine-year-old grey defeated a classy field to take the Grade One Commercial First Ascot Chase over two miles, three furlongs at Ascot in February, prior to a below-par effort when fourth in the Grade Two Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham last month.

Richards said: “Monet’s Garden is still a very good horse. He’s won a Grade One this year and hopefully he’ll come back and win another one next year - that’s if he doesn’t win another one this year.”

The John Smith’s Melling Chase is invariably one of the highlights of the season and has produced some thrilling finishes, with the top-class roll of honour including the likes of Remittance Man (1992), Viking Flagship (1995 & 1996), Martha’s Son (1997), Direct Route (1999 & 2000) and Moscow Flyer (2004 & 2005).

Richards may also be represented at Aintree by Faasel, who was successful in the Grade One John Smith’s Anniversary 4-y-o Novices’ Hurdle in 2005 and was fourth to My Way De Solzen in the Irish Independent Arkle Challenge Trophy Chase over two miles at the Cheltenham Festival on March 13.

Richards revealed: “Faasel will be entered in both the novice races at Aintree - the two-mile John Smith’s Maghull Novices’ Chase and the three miles, one furlong John Smith Mildmay Novices’ Chase.

“We’ll see what’s in each race and discuss it because he’ll also be entered over two and a half miles at Ayr. He seems fine and in good order.”

The £80,000 Grade Two John Smith’s Mildmay Novices’ Chase (2.00pm) is run on Friday, April 13, while the £125,000 Grade One John Smith’s Maghull Novices’ Chase (2.15pm) takes place on Saturday, April 14.

AINTREE COMMENCES WATERING

Andrew Tulloch, Clerk of the Course at Aintree, reported today that watering has commenced on the course, which is in good order ahead of next week’s racing.

Tulloch revealed: “We looked at the long-range forecast last week, which showed that there was no rain forecast. A dry week is expected with some sunshine and daytime temperatures between 13 and 16 degrees Celsius.

“With the ground drying out, we started watering over the weekend and will continue to do so right the way through, if necessary. Aintree’s policy is to try and provide ground no faster than good. We want to go into the meeting on the best ground possible.

“We have an excellent grass covering and with the warmer weather, the grass should continue to grow well.”

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