Friday 23 February 2018

Monksland shows class to set up Meade double

Thomas Kelly

NOEL Meade was in double-winning form at Down Royal, where Monksland showed he could have a fruitful season ahead of him.

Despite making a mistake at the final flight, Monksland made a winning seasonal return in the Grade Two WKD Hurdle. Last seen when finishing third behind Simonsig at the Cheltenham Festival, Meade's charge had won his two previous outings over hurdles and was sent off the 4/5 favourite to strike gold here.

Monksland was always travelling smoothly for Paul Carberry, who made his move with two left to jump, pulling clear in style before clattering the final obstacle.

That mistake gave Joxer a glimmer of hope, but the favourite -- racing in the colours of Seamus and Patricia Hunt -- underlined his class as he pulled clear again.

"I had it in my head to go chasing with him, but Seamus said I was mad as he has had only three hurdle runs," explained Meade. "I know he gets two and a half miles so we'll step him up to that next time."

Meade completed his double in the closing bumper, in which 9/4 favourite Apache Stronghold -- also owned by the Hunts -- made a winning debut in the hands of Nina Carberry.

Tony Martin was another Meath trainer to land a double as he combined with jockey Paul Townend for a quick-fire 9/1 brace.

The pair's opening winner came in the novice chase as 13/8 favourite Benefficient made all for a comfortable success, before Pires (3/1) followed up his recent Cork win by edging out Monastrell in the handicap chase.

Yet another trainer from the Royal County visited the winner's enclosure after the maiden hurdle as Gordon Elliott's Bonisland (13/8) ran out an impressive winner under Davy Russell.

The Donal Coffey-trained Top Madam (10/1) ran out a game winner of the Grade Three EBF Lough Construction Ltd Mares Novice Hurdle. Despite smashing the third-last obstacle, Top Madam kept finding for Davy Condon as favourite Missunited tried her best down the outside.

She was a spent force as she flattened the last and though Thynetocatcher had a late burst, Top Madam held on by a length.

Stocktons Wing easily justified 5/4 favouritism to take the opening three-year-old hurdle for trainer Charles O'Brien and jockey Mark Walsh.

Irish Independent

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