Tag Archive for: Monalee

Monalee setback likely to rule him out for the season

Monalee is likely to miss the rest of the season through injury, leaving A Plus Tard and Minella Indo as Henry de Bromhead’s two contenders for the Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Beaten less than two lengths into fourth place in last season’s blue riband, the 10-year-old was third to Presenting Percy on his reappearance at Tramore in November, setting himself up for a tilt at the King George VI Chase at Kempton.

However, travel restrictions ruled him out of the Boxing Day showpiece – and while he was given the alternative of taking on dual Gold Cup hero Al Boum Photo at Tramore on New Year’s Day, a setback has put all plans on hold.

“We’re not quite sure how long he’ll be out for yet, but he’s unlikely to be back this season. We’re just waiting for more information, then we’ll see,” De Bromhead told Sky Sports Racing.

Monalee could miss the rest of the season through injury
Monalee could miss the rest of the season through injury (Niall Carson/PA)

“It’s very disappointing for that to happen, but hopefully we’ll get him back on track again.”

A Plus Tard leapt into the Gold Cup picture when producing a late burst to snatch victory in the Savills Chase at Leopardstown.

“That was a great day. He was really good and we were really delighted he did it so well in the end,” said De Bromhead.

“We’ve entered him for the Gold Cup and the Ryanair and I’d imagine we’d be leaning towards the Gold Cup at this stage, but obviously we’ll keep our options open and confirm nearer the time.”

Minella Indo was favourite for the Savills Chase only to fall at the eighth fence. He will try to make amends in the Irish Gold Cup back at Leopardstown next month.

“He seems good now, so he’ll aim towards the Irish Gold Cup next and try to get him back with a clear round and get him going again,” said De Bromhead.

“He’s been good at home, not a bother on him.”

Notebook and Put The Kettle On were second and third respectively behind Chacun Pour Soi in the Grade One Paddy’s Rewards Club Chase at Leopardstown.

Put The Kettle On is being aimed at the Queen Mother Champion Chase
Put The Kettle On is being aimed at the Queen Mother Champion Chase (Simon Cooper/PA)

De Bromhead reports the pair to be in good form and have the Queen Mother Champion Chase as their Cheltenham target, with Notebook heading first for the Dublin Chase at Leopardstown next month.

“I was delighted with them. They both ran really well. Notebook was great and Put The Kettle On was really good as well. Unfortunately, Chacun Pour Soi was better then them on the day” said the County Waterford trainer.

“I think Put The Kettle On is a lot better around Cheltenham. She loves that track so we’ll aim her for the Champion Chase.

“I’d say Notebook will go back for the Grade One two-mile chase at Leopardstown at the Dublin Racing Festival, then I imagine on to the Champion Chase after that.”

De Bromhead also has a wealth of talent in the hurdling division, headed by Aspire Tower and Honeysuckle.

Aspire Tower's next race is likely to be the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham
Aspire Tower’s next race is likely to be the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham (Niall Carson/PA)

Aspire Tower is set to go to straight to Cheltenham for the Unibet Champion Hurdle after finishing second to Sharjah in the Matheson Hurdle at Leopardstown.

“He’s matured physically and mentally this year,” said De Bromhead.

“It was a brilliant performance in the three-year-old hurdle last Christmas and then he fell at Leopardstown in February and he just didn’t show up in the Triumph Hurdle. We gave him a good break and he’s back.

“He’s only just five now, but he’s strengthened and matured. I was delighted with his first two runs. His jumping let him down a tiny bit at Leopardstown, the third-last and the second-last, but we’ll work on that and we are aiming towards the Champion Hurdle.

“He’s got real size and scope and is a real athlete and loves jumping hurdles. He’s just clicked.

“I’d day his next target would be the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham. We might enter him for the Irish Champion Hurdle, but I think he could go straight to Cheltenham.”

De Bromhead is aiming Honeysuckle at the Irish Champion Hurdle – but would not be drawn as to whether she will run in Cheltenham’s Champion Hurdle or go for the Mares’ Hurdle which she won in 2020.

“We’re aiming towards the Irish Champion Hurdle with her. That’s the plan,” he said.

“She seems in great form after the Hatton’s Grace and is really well in herself. She won it last year so we’ll give it another go.

“We’ll see how we go in February and make a decision (about which race at Cheltenham) after that. We have to make sure we get there and see who else is getting there as well. We’ll take it one race at a time.

“She was a timid filly when she first came. Now she’s a complete prima donna.”

De Bromhead hoping for speedy recovery for Monalee

Henry de Bromhead is unsure how long Monalee will spend on the sidelines following a recent setback.

Beaten less than two lengths into fourth place in last season’s Cheltenham Gold Cup, the nine-year-old finished third behind Presenting Percy and Kemboy on his reappearance at Tramore in November, setting him up for a tilt at the King George VI Chase at Kempton.

However, travel restrictions ruled him out of the Boxing Day showpiece – and while he was given the alternative of taking on dual Gold Cup hero Al Boum Photo at Tramore, an injury has put all plans on hold.

Speaking after saddling a New Year’s Day winner at Tramore, De Bromhead said: “Monalee has unfortunately just had this setback.

“I’m not sure yet, but we’ll see how he is and hopefully we can get him back soon enough.”

Monalee is just one of three potential Gold Cup candidates for De Bromhead along with A Plus Tard and Minella Indo, who had contrasting fortunes in the Savills Chase at Leopardstown on Monday.

Minella Indo was favourite for a vintage renewal of the Grade One contest, but fell at the eighth fence, while A Plus Tard proved his stamina for the three-mile distance by charging home to claim a narrow victory over Kemboy and Melon.

De Bromhead is considering the possibility of the pair renewing rivalry in the Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown in early February.

He added: “Minella Indo is in good form and seems perfect since Leopardstown. He’ll be entered in the Irish Gold Cup now.

“A Plus Tard is great, he seems in good form. I’m delighted with him, obviously.

“I haven’t made any plans for him yet. He’ll stay in and around that trip now.

“That was a career-best performance and it was great to get it. The Irish Gold Cup is a possibility, but we’ll see – I haven’t discussed anything yet with his owners.”

Monalee forced to miss King George due to Irish travel ban

Horse Racing Ireland has announced that no Irish-trained horses or jockeys will be allowed to compete in the United Kingdom until December 31 in light of the Irish Government ban on UK travel.

In addition, no UK-based horses will be allowed to run in Ireland during that time.

The news is a blow to trainer Henry de Bromhead, who had intended to run Monalee in the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase on Boxing Day and Put The Kettle On against Altior in the Desert Orchid Chase a day later.

De Bromhead said: “Obviously it’s disappointing, but that’s just the way the cards have fallen and that’s the way it is.”

Irish horses will be missing from Kempton's Christmas meeting
Irish horses will be missing from Kempton’s Christmas meeting (David Davies/PA)

Monalee has the alternative option of running in the Savills Chase at Leopardstown on December 28, in which he has finished second in each of the past two seasons, although his owner Barry Maloney already has the hot favourite for this year’s renewal in Minella Indo.

Arkle heroine Put The Kettle On could line up for the Paddy’s Rewards Club Chase at Leopardstown 27.

“I don’t know whether they’ll go to Leopardstown or not – we haven’t made any plans yet,” De Bromhead added.

“They both have options, so we’ll speak to their owners and decide after that.”

Gordon Elliott looked set to be represented at Chepstow on Sunday in the Finale Hurdle, while Olly Murphy was intending to send Thomas Darby across the Irish Sea to Leopardstown, but updated guidance has put paid to those plans.

Brian Kavanagh, chief executive of HRI, said: “The concern from Government is very clear – these are exceptional times and a travel ban with the UK is a once-in-a-generation occurrence.

Arkle heroine Put The Kettle On was due to take on Altior this weekend
Arkle heroine Put The Kettle On was due to take on Altior this weekend (Andrew Matthews/PA)

“Irish racing has followed Government advice at all times during Covid-19 and will continue to do so.

“In that regard, we are advising that no Irish-trained horses or jockeys should travel to the UK for competition between now and December 31, and no UK horses or jockeys should travel in the opposite direction.”

Kavanagh added: “It’s a shame as runners from the different countries add to the meetings at both Kempton and Leopardstown, but these are unprecedented times.

“We’re hoping after the 31st the ban will be lifted, I think it’s a short-term thing to take stock.

“The main thing is racing can carry on behind closed doors.”

Blackmore relishing King George chance with Monalee

Rachael Blackmore is confident Monalee can make his presence felt in the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase at Kempton.

The leading rider will cross the Irish Sea to compete in the Boxing Day showpiece for the first time aboard Henry de Bromhead’s charge, who is a general 8-1 shot to become the first Irish-trained winner since Kicking King in 2005.

Beaten less than two lengths into fourth place in last season’s Cheltenham Gold Cup, Monalee was third behind multiple Grade One winners Presenting Percy and Kemboy on his reappearance in a Listed event at Thurles last month.

And Blackmore expects him to strip much fitter on Saturday.

“It’s very exciting. Everyone is very happy with Monalee at home and I’m really looking forward to it,” she said.

“The King George is a race that rolls off the tongue. It’s great to be heading over and it would be even better if we could go and win.

“If you look at back at his run behind Delta Work in Leopardstown (when second in last year’s Savills Chase) and his run in the Gold Cup, both of those put him bang there.

“He always seems to take his first run, which we’re hoping he did in Thurles.”

Minella Indo following a dominant display at Navan
Minella Indo following a dominant display at Navan (Gary Carson/PA)

Two days after the King George, Blackmore is set to don the same colours of owner Barry Maloney aboard Minella Indo, who is the hot favourite for the Savills Chase at Leopardstown.

The seven-year-old faces a rise in class against the likes of Presenting Percy, Kemboy and Delta Work, but has been hugely impressive in winning his two starts so far this term.

Blackmore added: “We couldn’t have asked him to do any more in Wexford or Navan.

“This is another step up, but we’re really looking forward to him.”

There could, however, be a potential stumbling block to Monalee and other Irish runners appearing at Kempton after the Irish Government announced on Sunday evening it would impose a 48-hour ban on travel from Britain to Ireland.

The country’s Transport Minister Eamon Ryan said that ferries will continue to operate for freight.

Kempton Park will host its big Christmas meeting on December 26 and 27
Kempton Park will host its big Christmas meeting on December 26 and 27 (David Davies/PA)

He said: “We need haulage coming in to keep our shelves full but other passengers will be restricted.

“I talked to the UK minister this morning and have been talking throughout the day with the Taoiseach (Micheal Martin) and the Tanaiste (Leo Varadkar), the health minister, foreign affairs minister and others involved.

“We have to do this because the UK Government themselves has put in place very strict restrictions on movements.

“This new strain of coronavirus, which they have identified, seems to have a much higher transmission rate.

“On a precautionary basis it’s right for us to follow up on the Dutch, Belgium, Italian and other governments will do the same.

“Any passengers who are in transit will have to set up mechanism to repatriate them in a safe way, but general travel between here and Britain is going to be restricted and we are going to review that at Cabinet to see if there will be any further changes.”

Monalee out to reward De Bromhead’s patience in King George

It was 10 years ago that Henry de Bromhead left his young twins and pregnant wife at Christmas to oversee Sizing Europe’s Ladbrokes King George VI Chase bid only for the meeting to be abandoned – but he hopes to finally have his first runner in the great race with Monalee on Boxing Day.

The scheduled 2010 renewal was eventually run on January 15 2011 and took place without Sizing Europe – but it did not do him any harm, because two months later he was successful in the Queen Mother Champion Chase.

Because of the complications with travelling in a post-coronavirus world, De Bromhead will not be at Kempton this time to witness Monalee in action, but he believes his representative holds solid claims of giving Ireland a first win since Kicking King’s second victory in 2005.

“Sizing Europe was supposed to run in it 10 years ago. We were over there and everything, but sadly it got cancelled (due to snow and frost),” said De Bomehead

Henry de Bromhead has struck up a fruitful partnership with Rachael Blackmore
Henry de Bromhead has struck up a fine partnership with Rachael Blackmore (PA Wire)

“We just felt the travelling over and back home had got to him a bit – so decided not to go back over when it was re-scheduled – and he ended up winning the Champion Chase, so it worked out well.

“That Christmas was horrific, though. I left my two-year-old twins and pregnant wife – and they haven’t let me forget it! With the situation we’re in at the moment, I’ll be staying at home this year anyway.”

Monalee, just touched off in the Savills Chase last Christmas, should arguably be at the peak of his powers – turning 10 in a few weeks – and he outran his 20-1 odds in the Gold Cup in March when beaten less than two lengths into fourth.

De Bromhead said: “We were thinking of going to Kempton with Monalee last year and decided against it, but we felt if we didn’t do it this year we’d never do it. I think the race should suit him and if we’re not there we’ve no chance.

“We said we’d give it a go. He seems in great form, so why not?”

For the third season in a row, Monalee could finish only third on his return to action, but he was up against top-class opposition in Presenting Percy and Kemboy at Thurles.

De Bromhead said: “Thurles was his normal first run of the season, but we’re probably more used to that now.

“Last year we were a bit disappointed after his first run, and that probably had a bit to do with us not travelling last year.

“This year we are used to it. It was fine, he took a nice blow at the third last, so he’ll improve plenty for the run and he seems in mighty form now.

“I’m not sure if there’s any improvement in him, but he’s rated 170. I think when you are up at those ratings it’s more a case of who is in the best form on the day, who does the race suit, who gets the run of the race.

“I felt we didn’t get the run of the race in the Gold Cup. I don’t know if he has to improve – I think he’s as good as any of the ones he’s taking on, and we’ll see on the day.

“Obviously he’s not been before, but we’re hoping the track will suit.”

Given the growing prominence of the Leopardstown Christmas meeting these days, the Irish challengers at Kempton are fewer and fewer, but De Bromhead believes it is still one of the great races – with jockey Rachael Blackmore set to bid to add to her Grade One tally.

“To win it would be amazing – it’s obviously one of the highlights of the year, and it would be fantastic if we could,” he said.

“Being a Grade One, Rachael is allowed to come over and ride, so I’d say it’s highly likely once she passes her Covid test and goes through the protocols they have in place.”

De Bromhead has King George ambitions for Monalee

The Ladbrokes King George VI Chase remains the likely next objective for Monalee after finishing third on his return to action at Thurles.

Making his first appearance since being beaten a shade under two lengths into fourth place in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, the nine-year-old was one of a trio of Grade One winners to contest Thursday’s boomerang.ie Chase.

After making much of the running under Rachael Blackmore, Monalee weakened to finish third behind Presenting Percy and Kemboy.

However, his trainer Henry de Bromhead is expecting his charge to strip much fitter for the run ahead of an intended outing at Kempton Park on Boxing Day.

He said: “I was happy with him – I thought it was a nice first run of the season.

“Hopefully he’ll improve plenty and come on for the run, which we think he will.

“We’re still thinking about going for the King George. We’re keen to give it a go.”

Monalee is a best-priced 25-1 with bet365 for the King George.

Presenting Percy primed for Kemboy and Monalee clash

Owner Philip Reynolds is keeping his fingers crossed Presenting Percy can make race fitness count in a fascinating renewal of the boomerang.ie Chase at Thurles.

Just five runners are set to go to post for the two-mile-six-furlong Listed contest, but the quintet includes three of top 10 highest-rated chasers in Ireland in Presenting Percy, Kemboy and Monalee – the winners of five Grade One races between them.

Presenting Percy was brilliant in beating Monalee in the 2018 RSA Chase, but has never quite rediscovered that form since – last season finishing behind Monalee and Kemboy when fifth in the Savills Chase and a place behind Kemboy again when third in the Irish Gold Cup.

The eight-year-old fell two fences from home when staying on for pressure in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March, a race in which Monalee ran a career-best to finish fourth with Kemboy in seventh.

Phillip Reynolds celebrates Presenting Percy winning the RSA Chase at Cheltenham
Phillip Reynolds celebrates Presenting Percy winning the RSA Chase at Cheltenham (Steven Paston/PA)

While Monalee and Kemboy have both been off the track since the blue riband in the Cotswolds eight months ago, Presenting Percy made a promising debut for Gordon Elliott when fourth in the Ladbrokes Champion Chase at Down Royal almost three weeks ago.

Reynolds said: “It will be a tidy little race, all right – it’s not often you get a Grade One at a small track in the middle of the week!

“He’s had a run, which won’t hold him back anyway. He gave his fences a bit of air in Down Royal, so another bit of practice probably won’t be any harm to him.

“I’d just like to see him finish off his race a bit better. I know Gordon and Denis (O’Regan) felt he blew up in Down Royal, but I still have those two races in Leopardstown last season (Savills Chase and Irish Gold Cup) in the back of my mind.

“We don’t know what would have happened at Cheltenham, but is there any reason to suspect he would have finished out better than he did twice in Leopardstown and the other day in Down Royal?

“I think it will be plenty testing in Thurles, so I don’t think the trip will be an excuse. The handicapper reckons he’ll come third and maybe that’s as good as he’ll finish.

“Personally, I would just like to see him finish his race out a little better.”

Kemboy bids to provide Willie Mullins with a fifth victory in the last six renewals following the previous triumphs of Sir Des Champs (2015), Champagne Fever (2016), Bachasson (2017) and Footpad (2019).

The the eight-year-old won three Grade Ones two seasons ago, including a defeat of his dual Cheltenham Gold Cup-winning stablemate Al Boum Photo in an epic Punchestown Gold Cup that will forever be remembered as Ruby Walsh’s swansong.

However, he returns with something to prove after failing to add to his tally in three starts last term.

Henry de Bromhead has already identified the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day as a likely target for Monalee ahead of his seasonal reappearance.

Monalee represents Henry de Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore
Monalee represents Henry de Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore (David Davies/PA)

Speaking about plans for his string last week, De Bromhead said: “He will go to Thurles and start in the Listed chase there, then we were thinking we might go to the King George with him and see how we get on there.

“Then obviously we will aim him towards the Gold Cup.”

Joseph O’Brien saddles Grade Two-winning chaser Darasso, who was last seen finishing down the field in the Champion Hurdle, while the small but select field is completed by the Mouse Morris-trained Beyond The Law.

King George and Gold Cup on the agenda for Monalee

Henry de Bromhead is eyeing the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase as a possible Christmas date for Monalee.

The nine-year-old failed to strike in three starts last season, but counted a head defeat by Delta Work in the Savills Chase at Leopardstown and a one-and-three-quarter-length fourth in the Cheltenham Gold Cup among those efforts.

Monalee is set to return to action in the Boomerang.ie Chase at Thurles on Thursday week, with the Listed contest a stepping stone to potential Kempton outing on Boxing Day.

De Bromhead said: “He’s great. He will go to Thurles next week and start in a Listed chase there, then we were thinking we might go to the King George with him and see how we get on there.

“Then obviously we will aim him towards the Gold Cup.”

Minella Indo is already a Cheltenham winner and could return for the Gold Cup
Minella Indo is already a Cheltenham winner and could return for the Gold Cup (Julian Herbert/PA)

Minella Indo was narrowly denied by the flying finish of Champ in last season’s RSA at Cheltenham and he already has a win under his belt after hacking up by 25 lengths in a Grade Three heat at Wexford last month.

De Bromhead has now set his sights on the BetVictor Make Your Best Bet Chase at Navan on November 22 for the seven-year-old, who has had just four chase outings to date.

He said: “He’s a really good horse, obviously, and he was good the other day. I was delighted with him, I was actually surprised by how sharp he was to be honest, usually he takes a while to warm up. He was brilliant that day I thought and he will go to Navan next week and then maybe on to Leopardstown at Christmas.

“He’s won over three miles over hurdles, he was just chinned in the RSA – I think he’s got as good a profile as any (for the Gold Cup).”

A Plus Tard could go up in trip
A Plus Tard could go up in trip (PA)

A Plus Tard could take a jump up in trip after having to settle for the runner-up spot for the second successive year in Navan’s Fortria Chase on Sunday.

While the six-year-old was a Grade One winner at Leopardstown over two miles and a furlong last year before finishing third in the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham, De Bromhead is not convinced A Plus Tard is best suited by speed heats and he may be set a more exacting stamina test next month.

He said: “I was a little bit disappointed I suppose (on Sunday), but he just seems to get caught out. Until he won at Christmas, I’d never really had him as a two-miler. Then he was so impressive at Christmas – that’s two-one at Leopardstown – but he just doesn’t seem to jump those fences quick enough over that trip.

“It was a nice start. Your hands are tied a little bit as he’s so much better going left-handed, so there aren’t many two-and-a-half-mile races on left-handed tracks until the spring.

“It was good to get him out and we’ll enter him probably for the Savills Chase and the race he won last year at Leopardstown and decide nearer the time. I’d be leaning towards trying him over three miles, but we’ll see.”

De Bromhead has another top-class chaser on his hands in Chris’s Dream, who was beaten just a neck by The Storyteller on his return in the Grade One Champion Chase at Down Royal last month.

Winner of the Red Mills Chase over two and a half miles last season, he could now switch back to that distance in search of a first top-level strike at Punchestown next month.

Chris's Dream is heading for the John Durkan Chase
Chris’s Dream is heading for the John Durkan Chase (David Davies/PA)

De Bromhead said: “Chris was brilliant, he ran a cracker there the other day at Down Royal and was unfortunate not to win. He still ran a blinder.

“I would say we’ll drop him back to two and a half miles in the John Durkan and then we’ll give him a good break and train him for the spring. He seems to run very well fresh.”

De Bromhead is poised to thrust Notebook back into action for the first time since his disappointing effort when finishing sixth in the Arkle.

Sent off the 5-2 favourite, Notebook was well beaten by stable companion Put The Kettle On – but De Bromhead thinks it may have been one run too many at the Festival.

He said: “My plan for Notebook would be the Poplar Chase (at Naas on November 21), either way I would imagine we would go to Leopardstown at Christmas and aim towards the Champion Chase. He obviously didn’t run to form there last year in Cheltenham, so I might try to get him there a bit fresher.

“He’d had four runs already and was going there on his fifth run, so maybe we’ll try to get him there on his fourth run, but we’ll see how the season unfolds.”