It wasn't to be and that much was plain from quite a long way out, but to me that great horse loses absolutely nothing in defeat. He still saw off all but two of a very classy field, most of whom were significantly younger than his 11 years. Okay, so he didn't jump with his usual verve, but for him to have finished once again in the money, for the 31st time in 35 starts, is a record which speaks for itself.
And now we have a really exciting pretender to his throne in Long Run. I'm always happy to see the Waley-Cohen family do well and it must have been satisfying for Sam to silence his critics. It was a cool-headed ride on a wonderfully talented and stunning looking horse, but only when I see Long Run beat Kauto Star in the Cheltenham Gold Cup (sorry George, the Totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup) will I accept the opinion of the race commentator who declared: 'The King is dead, long live the King'. In my book, King Kauto is still alive and kicking and long may he reign.
Saturday also brought vicarious pleasure for this stable via the victory of James de Vassy and Will Kennedy in the Lanzarote Hurdle. Of course we think of Will as 'our jockey' as he is first choice for any of our jumpers and regularly comes up to school for us. But he has commitments to larger trainers, notably Paul Webber, for whom he rides RSA Chase favourite Time For Rupert, and today he struck up a winning partnership with the increasingly successful Nick Williams. Let's hope we see more of Will on Britain's racecourses: as I've said before, he's too good to be travelling to a track merely for one ride, as is so often the case.
One of Will's regular mounts, Kadouchski, will be without his services on Wednesday as he is to have a run on the flat. He's one of four runners for this week between now and then, and he will be ridden, as he was in his last flat outing, by our stable apprentice Hannah Nunn, who is also on Asterisk at Southwell tomorrow. Ethics Girl and Rhythm Stick are both back in action this week after last-start wins so let's hope at least one (or preferably all) of them can trouble the judge.
I don't know if I'm just getting more squeamish but the start of this year seems to have brought with it an increasing number of falls for horses and jockeys and once again today, great Saturday cards from all over the country provided us with some very uncomfortable moments of viewing. I pray that they're all okay.
It's heartening, however, to have read a more positive bulletin today regarding the recovery of Monet's Garden. Perhaps it's too early to call it a recovery but I'm sure every one of his many fans continues to hope that he is able to enjoy his well-earned retirement with Joey, who is seen at the top of this page with the great grey after a schooling session last year at the Links during their imposed exile from snowbound Cumbria. Get well soon, old boy.