Murwillumbah trainer Matthew Dunn is looking...
Ron Quinton’s veteran galloper Monton has history against them on Saturday when they look to become the first dual Villiers Stakes winner in history.
The now seven-year-old son of Catbird enjoyed a one and a quarter length victory in the $157,000 Inglis Villiers Stakes (1600m) two years ago when carrying a hefty 58kg and overcoming barrier 15 of 16.
That year the Sydney summer classic was run at Warwick Farm, which was also the venue 12 months ago when Monton failed to defend their title running a disappointing ninth behind All Legal.
Monton is back for the third consecutive year this weekend with the 2013 Villiers Stakes to be run over a shorter 1550m to accommodate the change of tracks from the course proper at Randwick to Kensington.
And it is shaping up as a decidedly tough assignment for the local gelding who hasn’t managed to win a race since their 2011 Villiers Stakes success.
Last year Monton was allocated 59kg but this year, based on their poor performances over the past season, they drop back down to 55kg.
Drawn on the rails with apprentice hoop Sam Clipperton to ride they are out to overcome a long standing hoodoo.
First run in 1892, the Villiers Stakes has never been won by the same horse twice.
This year Monton isn’t well fancied to be the inaugural dual winner currently paying $26 in the Villiers Stakes odds led by Taxmeifyoucan and Sysmo at $6.50 each.
But former top hoop turned trainer Quinton is confident Monton has what it takes to return to form, and that Clipperton, who he has a very high opinion of, is the right jockey to get the job done.
“It is very hard for Sam at the moment because he only has a 1.5 kilogram claim and trainers have so many good options,” Monton explained to The Sydney Morning Herald.
“If you look at the top 15 riders in Sydney, it is very, very strong at the moment and you would put any of them on. It means for someone like Sam you have to wait your turn.
“We have seen once these young blokes get their turn they are very good, just look what happened to Tommy Berry once he got to Gai’s. He hasn’t looked back since then.
“I have to say that I’m very surprised that Sam doesn’t get more opportunities, but that is part of growing up and he just has to be patient.”
Monton’s known stable apprentice, 19-year-old Clipperton has been aboard Monton for all four of their runs this season.
The pair haven’t been able to finish better than seventh however, something Quinton is hoping will change in the Villiers.
Last start they ran in the traditional Villiers Stakes lead-up, the Listed Festival Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill on November 30.
It’s a race that has produced the past two Villiers winners, including Monton who completed the double in 2011.
Clipperton rode Monton in the first leg of that double, but was replaced by Hugh Bowman for the Group 2, something that hasn’t happened this year.
“We thought we needed a senior rider back then,” Quinton said.
“Hughie won the Villiers sitting four wide throughout, if Sam had done that he would have been lynched. Now my owners are happy to keep Sam on.”
Last year they were second to Malavio in the Festival before their Villiers ninth, explained after they suffered a bump on the hindquarter near the 200m mark from which they didn’t recover.
This year however Monton could only manage to run five and a half lengths away eighth to White Stage.
Still, last year’s Villiers Stakes winner All Legal bounced back from a Festival Stakes seventh, so all hope is not lost.
“I was happy with that run, the two that led them home are outstanding horses and the rest of them finished pretty close together,” Quinton said of Monton’s lead-up.
“The horse has come on since that run and I think from barrier one he will get the right run.
“I’m very happy where Monton is going into the race.”
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