Monks to Land the World Hurdle

With the absence of Big Bucks the World Hurdle has a much more open look to it than has been the case in the past few years. Monksland was our banker at Cheltenham Festival 2012 where he ran with distinction in the Neptune finishing an 18 lengths third to favourite Simonsig. It’s unlikely he would have won but as with most Paul Carberry rides he was held up and on this occasion this allowed the winner to get first run. Furthermore, he was then impeded at the second last when Cotton Mill ran out. The experience for both horse and jockey should stand them in good stead when they contest the World Hurdle on the Thursday of the Festival.

As pointed out when previewing the Neptune last year Monksland has both stamina and speed. Stamina was once again demonstrated up the hill at Cheltenham and this season he showed speed to win over two miles in a Grade 2 at Down Royal in November. He was then beaten by Zaidpour over two and a half miles in the Grade 1 Hatton’s Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse in early December. However, he showed improvement on his latest run at the end of December when turning the tables around with Zaidpour in the Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown. Significantly, this was improvement was shown over three miles; the distance of the World Hurdle. Paul Carberry rode his usual stalking race and at one stage he looked out of it but he made steady headway after the third last before looking a big danger approaching the last. He then ran on well to beat Zaidpour convincingly by two and a half lengths.

There should be plenty more to come as this was only Monkslands sixth race. Furthermore, he’s only encountered good ground once (at Cheltenham last year) so a warm and breezy next few weeks would hold no fears and could bring about further improvement. His trainer Noel Mead believes this to be the case and was quoted recently as saying he wouldn’t swap his charge for anything else in the race. There is every chance that Monksland could prove himself a really good horse in time and he has a touch of class about him.

The same could be said of Oscar Whisky but he had a very hard race on bad ground at Cheltenham races on Trials Day and could end up in the Champion Hurdle. It’s my golden rule of ante-post betting that selections should be targeted at the race in questions. Aside from the obvious point that you will lose your stake if switched to another race, it regularly pays to be with a horse who has been specifically trained with a race in mind. In any event, Oscar Whisky was beaten by Reve De Sivola – second favourite for World Hurdle – and I see no reason why the form should be reversed but he also hard a hard time. In contrast, Monksland will arrive at Prestbury Park a fresh horse. At eight he’s also a year older than Monksland.

Looking further down the betting there are doubts about Tidal Bay, Quevega (very unlikely), Peddlers Cross and Solwhit running.

All things considered the 7/1 available is good value with just over a month to go until the Festival.

1 pt each way Monksland – Ladbrokes World Hurdle – 7/1 with Paddy Power and William Hill.

I’d be very interested to hear your tips and thoughts on the World Hurdle. Please post in the Comments below or tweet me @jpfestival. Thank you.