After a three start absence on the horse former star apprentice Sam Clipperton will reunite with an old favourite in Monton for Saturday’s 2014 Festival Stakes at Rosehill Racecourse.
A two-time Sydney apprentice jockeys’ premiership winner Clipperton, who only won his first stakes race three years back, is now making a name for himself as a senior rider aboard horses from major stables including Godolphin.
But this weekend he’s back for trainer Ron Quinton, on the back of riding three Randwick winners last Saturday, who was very good to him throughout his apprenticeship giving him many rides on Catbird gelding Monton.
Clipperton and the now eight-year-old Monton combined to win four races, the most recent of which was a two length effort over the Randwick mile on February 22.
The jockey was also aboard when the veteran galloper failed to fire in this year’s Group 1 Doncaster Mile (1600m) where he weakened to run a distant 19th and beat home just one other runner in a race won by Sacred Falls.
Since then Monton has had six runs following a four month break and is racing in top form despite his age.
Two back he recorded a gutsy win over I’m Imposing in a 1500m handicap at Rosehill when ridden by apprentice Taylor Marshall for the weight relief.
Marshall was also there on November 6 for Monton’s most recent run, a close third behind the now Chris Waller-trained Strawberry Boy in the Listed Ladies Day Cup (1400m) at Hawkesbury.
Saturday Quinton is hoping his stable ace can go one better in the $100,000 Listed Festival Stakes (1500m) where Monton, the top rated horse (108), will carry the top weight in the traditional lead-up for the $175,000 Group 2 Villiers Stakes (1600m) on December 13.
“He is the same now as he ever was. Nothing’s changed,” Quinton told AAP.
“He is a beautiful sound horse. Sure he’s getting older but he doesn’t know that.”
It will be the fourth consecutive year Monton runs in the Festival Stakes following an eighth to White Sage (2013), close second behind Malavio (2012) and half-length win with Clipperton in the saddle back in 2011.
Monton backed up from his Festival Stakes win three years ago to also win the Villiers Stakes with another former star apprentice for Monton, Hugh Bowman, in the saddle.
Clipperton meanwhile is setting himself goals as a senior rider including a Group 1 win within two years after a close call when third on the John Thompson-trained Hooked in this year’s Epsom Handicap.
“I have set myself goals as a senior rider; one of them is to win a Group One race within two years,” he said.
“The more people see me hopefully my name gets out there. The closest I’ve come to a Group One win was in the Epsom.”
Other notable Festival Stakes hopes this year include Waller’s last start winner over the Randwick mile Amovatio, Group 1 Myer Classic fifth placed mare Estonian Princess, the John O’Shea-trained Generalife coming off three Group 3 minor placings, last start Rosehill champ Heart Testa, Group 2 Queensland Guineas winner from the winter Sir Moments and Ladies Day Cup winner Strawberry Boy.
The 2014 Festival Stakes final field and barriers are due out on Wednesday morning so stay tuned to Races.com.au.
Then to get behind your weekend selections at the guaranteed best odds visit the country’s premier online bookmaker Ladbrokes.com.au today!