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Nymph Monte doing it for Guisey

There will be one notable absence at Awapuni on Saturday, with the passing of Paul Guise on Monday.

The Wairarapa horseman rode his pride and joy Nymph Monte  in trackwork at Opaki racecourse on Monday morning, in preparation for his tilt at the Listed Ricoh Feilding Gold Cup (2200m) on Saturday, but sadly passed away shortly afterwards.

The Central Districts racing community were devastated by their loss, particularly Nymph Monte's trainer Grant Nicholson.

"Paul rode him on Monday morning, got off and a few minutes later he had a heart attack," he said.

Guise was a popular face around the Opaki Training Centre and rode many quality equine athletes, including dual Group One winners Tavistock and Cent Home.

"He has been with me for six years," Nicholson said. "He used to be a jockey and he trained a few and used to train in partnership for a while with Jim Wallace.

"He has been track riding for myself and Andrew Campbell as well, with Tavistock. He also track rode and strapped for Jim Wallace with Cent Home."

While being associated with Group One-winning horses is great, it is a son of the former that has meant more to him than most.

Guise had been with Tavistock eight-year-old gelding Nymph Monte from the very beginning of his career and he has been a constant companion to the horse, strapping him to 10 victories, including two at stakes level.

"He has been with Nymph Monte from day dot, he was his favourite horse," Nicholson said.

"He rode him right through from breaking in time and he always strapped him wherever he went, he loved him."

While the week started on the worst possible note, Nicholson is hoping Nymph Monte can end it on a high, in honour of Guise.

"It would be great to win in Guisey's honour. He will be there with him on Saturday in spirit."

Looking ahead to Saturday, Nicholson is happy with Nymph Monte and believes he has improved since his eighth-placing in the Egmont Cup (2100m) at Hawera earlier this month.

"I wasn't too disappointed with his last start at Hawera," he said. "It was a nice run and it wasn't his main goal. He has improved out of that run.

"He does like Awapuni and hopefully we get a bit of luck. Barrier eight is near perfect for him. He can slot in wherever he wants to and if the track (rated a Soft7 on Wednesday morning) came back a point or two that would be nice, but the track won't be an issue."

All going to plan, Nymph Monte will head south next month to tackle the Gr.3 Christchurch Casino New Zealand Cup (3200m).

"As long as he hits the line strong on Saturday we will head down to Riccarton," Nicholson said. "That will be his grand final this campaign."

Paul Guise's funeral will take place at Opaki Training Centre at 11am on Friday.

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