Monmiral extends winning run with Summit strike

Monmiral staked a claim for Cheltenham Festival honours when maintaining his unbeaten record in the bet365 Summit Juvenile Hurdle at Doncaster.

The French import was slashed to 12-1 from 25-1 for the Triumph Hurdle with Betfair and Paddy Power after adding to an Auteuil success when with Francois Nicolle and a win at Exeter for his new trainer Paul Nicholls.

Monmiral travelled like a 1-2 shot should throughout the extended two-mile journey as Gold Desert made a bold bid to lead all the way.

The race looked over when Monmiral went to the front at the third-last flight, but he gave Gold Desert another chance when fluffing the penultimate obstacle.

However, Monmiral was fluent at the last and drew away on the flat to score by 11 lengths in the hands of Sean Bowen and lift the Grade Two spoils. Glorious Zoff was 22 lengths away in third place.

Nicholls said: “He went to Exeter and won his prep for that very well. He will have one run before the spring, either here or possibly at Haydock and then he will go to either Cheltenham or Aintree.

“The idea is then look after him as he will be a chaser in the future.

“He made a bit of a mess at the second last, but he soon picked up and took off again which was good to see.

“Sir Alex (Ferguson, part owner) was up there to watch it and he nearly had two winners with Give Me A Copper, who has run well in defeat, so he has had a good day up there.”

Bowen added: “He’s a lovely horse. He travelled great. He was probably in front too soon.

“He was just travelling and winging hurdles.

“He’ll be better with a lead for longer, but I like him a lot.

“He wasn’t great at the second last, but he was just having a look round in front and he was good at the last.

“He’ll keep improving. He’s a very nice young horse.”

Bowen, who had fallen from Billingsley earlier on the card, did not take up his mount, Give Me A Copper, in the concluding bet365 Handicap Chase.

He was signed off by the racecourse medical officer and replaced by amateur rider Angus Cheleda.