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Picture: Mister Monocle being led in after being given a fine ride by  Andile Ndlebe. The man to thank for him being back in training, Chris Snaith, is in the background (Wayne Marks).

The Justin Snaith-trained Twice Over gelding Mister Monocle won the opening race at Kenilworth on Saturday, a Workrider’s Maiden Plate over 1100m.

A monocle is of course a single eye glass, so this Henry and Pat Devine-owned horse is well named as he only has one eye.

It was Mister Monocle’s fourth career start, but he had actually come out of retirement to win.

In three races from 1200m to 1600m as a three-year-old he failed to make the frame.

“He was just too immature,” said Justin.

The Snaiths and the Devines jointly decided to retire him.

He was sent to the paddock on the Snaith farm where they keep the retired horses before finding them a good home.

However, six months later Mister Monocle was still there.

Justin said, “It is very difficult to re-home a one-eyed horse and also you have to be very careful where they might end up.” 

He continued, “So we kept him and eight months later there was still no home, so my father said ‘Put him back in training’. So we had to hide him from Jonathan, because of the accounts! The Devines have been fantastic and in his first run back he wins, so he has paid for everything for the last year. A very nice story and very glad we can do something for a horse with one eye. He is a bit difficult, but my father rides him as a lead horse every morning. My father once saw a horse going past our farm in a cart, it was about 40 years ago, and (after obviously buying the horse and putting him in training) he won ten races with him! So when he says put a horse back in training we listen!”

Snaith described Andile Ndlebe, who was aboard Mister Monocle, as “a phenomenal rider.”

He continued, “He has been in Natal with me for the whole season and ridden all of the top Group 1 horses. And today it was lucky we had a work riders race because I was waiting for a few jockeys who did not arrive. So I was able to pull my guys out of the change room and they rode some of my Guineas horses for the season (in racecourse gallops before the meeting), which went well but it was just very soft out there.”

Andile showed excellent judgement of pace on Mister Monocle.

He allowed the big horse to do his own thing for the first half of the 1100m race and he was loping along right near the back.

His big, rangy stride made up the ground steadily as many of the others began to wilt in the testing conditions.

He responded well to Andile’s urgings in the latter stages and went on to win by five lengths.

Snaith said the big horse would definitely be given more chances.