Rac­ing Ain­tree and Chel­tenham

The pop­u­lar Smad Place turns back the clock to tri­umph in the Grade Two race made fa­mous by an­other great grey, Monet’s Gar­den

Horse & Hound - - News - Ain­tree, Mersey­side By TOM PEA­COCK

IT was to be a cel­e­bra­tion of greys past, present and, quite pos­si­bly, fu­ture as Na­tional Hunt rac­ing made a glo­ri­ous re­turn to Ain­tree on Sun­day (29 Oc­to­ber). Prior to the 188Bet Monet’s Gar­den Old Roan Chase there had been an ap­pear­ance from the horse that this Grade Two race is named af­ter, with the 19-year-old Monet’s Gar­den look­ing as ex­u­ber­ant as ever parad­ing back at the course upon which he won five times.

The man­tle of most pop­u­lar ac­tive grey has long been taken up by Smad Place, par­tic­u­larly af­ter his swash­buck­ling vic­tory in the 2015 Hen­nessy, so it was highly ap­pro­pri­ate that Alan King’s 10-year-old picked this oc­ca­sion to de­liver an­other ir­re­sistible dis­play of neat jump­ing and courage un­der pres­sure.

Smad Place and Wayne Hutchin­son moved to the front ap­proach­ing the fi­nal three fences in the home straight but he sud­denly looked a sit­ting duck with the darker and younger grey Cloudy Dream coast­ing in be­hind un­der a mo­tion­less Brian Hughes.

They were level at the last, where Cloudy Dream got in too close, and Smad Place seized the ini­tia­tive to fin­ish three-quar­ters of a length clear. There might be an­other day for the run­ner-up but this was an­other mem­ory to cher­ish for con­nec­tions of a horse who, sur­pris­ingly, had not struck for 21 months.

“I’ll clear a space in the garage for him,” said Hutchin­son. “He’s been a great ser­vant for the whole yard, to be still com­pet­ing at that level at the age he is.

“The orig­i­nal plan was to go to Wetherby for the Char­lie Hall but we came here in­stead and it was a great shout. Slower ground helped and he was 8lb bet­ter off at the weights this year,” he added.

“You just try to sit there and do as lit­tle as pos­si­ble with him and try not to in­ter­fere.”

Smad Place (Wayne Hutchin­son, left) seals his win in the Monet’s Gar­den Old Roan chase with a foot­per­fect leap at the last to de­feat Cloudy Dream

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