Horses To Follow » Monksland


Monksland ran a really encouraging race on his first run for exactly two years in finishing third in the Grade 1 three-mile hurdle at Leopardstown on Sunday.

Settled in seventh of the eight runners in the early stages of the race by Paul Carberry, the Beneficial gelding’s jumping was good, as it always has been. His rider started to niggle him along as they ran out of the back straight towards the second last flight, and he briefly dropped back to last place on landing over that obstacle, but he ran on from there. He squeezed through on the inside around the home turn to move into sixth place and, despite landing flat-footed over the last, he stayed on really well up the run-in to pass three horses and claim third spot. He was about 10 lengths behind Lieutenant Colonel and Jetson on landing over the last, and he ended up beaten by just five, despite the fact that that pair were driven all the way to the line.

This was a really good re-start to Monksland’s career. He has always been highly regarded by his trainer Noel Meade, as evidenced by the fact that he has raced only in Grade 1 or Grade 2 company since he won his maiden hurdle at Navan in December 2011. He has won the three Grade 2 races that he has contested, and he has been beaten in the three Grade 1 races, but Sunday’s race was the first three-mile Grade 1 race that he contested, and three miles is probably his optimum trip. It is interesting that he was beaten by Zaidpour in the Hatton’s Grace Hurdle in 2012 over two and a half miles, but that he exacted his revenge a month later over three miles on just 2lb better terms. That was the last time we saw him before last Sunday.

He is obviously fragile, but that means that he is still lightly raced. He has just turned eight, but he has raced just seven times over hurdles. He is probably still progressing as a staying hurdler. He is a stayer with speed who has finished third in a Neptune Hurdle, and that makes him interesting as a World Hurdle contender. In a year in which the top staying hurdlers continue to fluff their lines, Monksland could be among the best of them.

28th December 2014