Monaasib putting big-race claims to the test at Leopardstown

Monaasib, who was last seen chasing home Derby favourite High Definition, is set to make his first start of the new campaign in the Ballylinch Stud “Red Rocks” 2,000 Guineas Trial at Leopardstown.

Kevin Prendergast’s colt won twice from six starts as a juvenile in 2020, before rounding off his campaign with a runner-up finish behind the Aidan O’Brien-trained High Definition in September’s Beresford Stakes at the Curragh.

On the strength of that form, Monaasib is the highest-rated of 12 runners declared for Sunday’s Listed contest – but his trainer warns he will check on ground conditions before committing to a run.

Prendergast said: “He’s in good shape and working nice, but if the ground is very, very fast he could be doubtful.

“Everyone is talking about High Definition as a champion. He came from behind and chinned us in the Beresford.

“Our horse has done well during the winter and is ready to rock and roll, but we will check on the ground.”

Monaasib’s rivals include A Case Of You, who won the Group Three Anglesey Stakes for John McConnell last autumn, and recently made a successful first start for Ado McGuinness at Dundalk.

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“I’m very happy with him. I was delighted with his first run back at Dundalk,” said McGuinness.

“I suppose the question is will he stay or will he not. Hopefully he settles. I’m a little concerned about the ground, but I think we’ll have plenty of showers beforehand and Leopardstown always do a good job of the ground.

“I’m hopeful of a very big run to keep the dream alive.”

He added: “He won over seven furlongs in a maiden at Down Royal before we got him and he was a two-year-old then and he’s three now.

“He probably needs to improve another three or four pounds, but I think he will. He’s second in on the ratings behind Kevin’s horse.

“If he settles I think he’ll stay no problem. He’s not in the Irish Guineas, we hadn’t got him when the entries closed. We could have supplemented the other day, but decided we’d wait and see how he did in this. He’s in the English and German Guineas.

“If he doesn’t stay we can look at Plan B, which will probably include the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot.”

Aidan O’Brien has saddled the last four winners of the 2,000 Guineas Trial and this year fires a three-pronged assault, with Merchants Quay, Matchless and Horoscope all in contention.

Jim Bolger’s Poetic Flare, Laws Of Indices from Ken Condon’s yard and Joseph O’Brien’s pair of Snapraeterea and Magnanimous also feature.

Group Three honours are up for grabs in the following Ballylinch Stud “Priory Belle” 1,000 Guineas Trial, in which Donnacha O’Brien’s Moyglare Stud Stakes heroine Shale sets the standard.

Prendergast is looking forward to saddling Frankel filly Mehnah, who faces a significant step up in class after winning on her racecourse debut at Dundalk in September.

“We’ll find out whether she’s up to Classic standard or not – that’s the idea,” Prendergast added.

“She won a small maiden in Dundalk and seems to have wintered well and come on well.

“She’s coated out and looks well and we’re hoping for the best.”

Aidan O’Brien is again triply represented by More Beautiful, Empress Josephine and Joan Of Arc, as is son Joseph, with Sense Of Style, Messidor and My Generation declared.

Subsequent Derby heroes Galileo (2001) and High Chaparral (2002) are among Aidan O’Brien’s 10 previous winners of the P.W. McGrath Memorial Ballysax Stakes, which also features on Sunday’s card.

Bolshoi Ballet and Lough Derg are the Ballydoyle representatives this time around, while Donnacha and Joseph saddle Fernando Vichi and Isle Of Sark respectively.

Bolger’s Flying Visit and Dermot Weld’s Wuqood, who were split by just a head when first and second in the Eyrefield Stakes here in October, are also in the mix.