Progressive apprentice jockey Sam Clipperton will be given the chance to step it up on Saturday with Sydney trainer Ron Quinton putting them on his defending Festival Stakes winner Monton in the 2012 edition of the Sydney Summer Racing Carnival classic.
Running at Rosehill Gardens the $100,000 Listed Festival Stakes (1500m) is shaping up as the race for Catbird six-year-old Monton to return to form, and Quinton hopes the booking of Clipperton will be part of that.
“This horse’s best form is in the summer months and Sam Clipperton will be riding him in the Festival,” Quinton said.
“It won’t be a late pick-up for him this time because he’s definitely going to ride him.
“No-one seems to jump over the moon about this kid but he’s taken another step, and that’s why I’m supporting him.
“He’s riding super. He also won the Tatt’s Cup on Crafty Irna for me and my owners are supportive of him being on.
“Not only does he deserve it, but he’s taken the next step with his riding.”
Twelve months ago Monton won the Festival Stakes before backing up two weeks later to take out the Group 2 Villiers Stakes (1600m) at Warwick Farm but they haven’t won a race since.
Clipperton was there for the Festival success last summer, having been put on the horse in the 11th hour after Chris O’Brien was ill on the day, before being replaced after his first stakes winning ride in the Villiers by Hugh Bowman.
For their opening three runs in their most recent prep Monton was again ridden by Bowman before Kathy O’Hara took over last start when Monton ran three and a half lengths away sixth to Fat Al in the Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m) at Randwick on October 6, an effort Quinton believed was game considering the horse’s horror barrier 13 of 15 draw.
“His run in the Epsom was very good off a very bad barrier,” Quinton said.
“Drawing those barriers in Epsoms makes it hard because you’ve got to waste too much ground going back and he’s not good enough to make up all that ground.”
For this weekend however last year’s winning hoop will reunite with last year’s winning horse looking to emulate the same Festival Stakes result, a feat Quinton believes is a very real possibility.
“He had two and a half weeks off after the Epsom and I’m very happy with the way he’s coming along,” Quinton said.
Having carried just 55.5kg to victory in the Festival last year, Monton will be tested on Saturday when they are forced to cart around the hefty 59kg top-weight but they showed they were ready for the challenge with a tidy fourth in a Warwick Farm barrier trail over 800m last Thursday – a hitout Whitefriars won in a smart 46 seconds.
Clipperton is looking even further ahead too hoping to secure another Festival win before being there for this year’s Villiers Stakes on December 22.
“It’s great to get another opportunity on Monton and hopefully we can do the Festival-Villiers double,” Clipperton said.
Stay tuned to Races.com.au for all the latest Festival Stakes field and betting updates, final acceptances due to be taken on Wednesday.
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