Rehearsing for jumping’s greatest stage

Berties Dream (right)

The Slaney Novices Hurdle at Naas has long been a stepping stone to the Cheltenham Festival. Monksland won Sunday’s renewal of the race in such a fashion that literally screamed ‘Neptune winner’. Considering he would have found the heavy ground not to his liking this was a striking performance. He will almost certainly get better ground at Cheltenham and will surely improve further for that. It is understood that he will probably go straight to the Festival. Mikael D’Haguenet won the Slaney in 2009 en route to Neptune glory and the general 16/1 available about Monksland doing the same is outstanding value. He could be the horse that has trainer Noel Meade kissing the Cheltenham turf once again!

Berties Dream who won the 2010 Albert Bartlett at the Cheltenham Festival; secured his first win since then in the three mile beginners chase at Thurles on Saturday. He was victorious by a jaw dropping twenty four lengths. ‘Bertie’ is one of my favourite horses so watching him return to this kind of form was fantastic. It was a race to take note of, he made all with his rivals toiling in his wake. The signs of well-being had been there in his previous run at Navan in December where he was beaten a head by Start Me Up. Last season he was a very sick horse but still managed to run into sixth in the World Hurdle; 8 ¾ lengths behind Big Bucks after being nearly put through the rail on the bend. Connections are considering the RSA for him. On Festival form he has to come into the picture; the softer the ground the better and he stays all day.