Veteran galloper Monton lines up for his 55th career start in Saturday’s Festival Stakes 2014 field looking to improve on an eighth to the then undefeated White Sage in the Rosehill Gardens showdown last season.
Twelve months ago the Group 1 runner-up contested his third consecutive $100,000 Listed Festival Stakes (1500m) and finished eighth, an effort he’s hoping to atone for this year when he returns for a fifth shot at the Sydney Summer Racing Carnival feature.
The major lead-up race to the Group 2 Villiers Stakes (1600m) at Randwick on December 13, this year’s Festival Stakes field features 14 gallopers.
Ron Quinton’s Catbird eight-year-old is the 60kg top weight looking to return to the form that saw him run second to Malavio in 2012 and win the 2011 edition of the race.
He comes off some crack lead-up form in easier class races having run top two at his past three starts, most recently finishing runner-up behind Strawberry Boy in the Listed Ladies Day Cup (1400m) at Hawkesbury carrying 61.5kg on November 6.
Dropping a little in weight then for the weekend Monton has to overcome a wide barrier 10 draw with his Festival Stakes winning jockey from three years ago Sam Clipperton, who celebrated his first black type win that day, jumping back in the saddle.
“I don’t think there’s a jockey riding better than Sam at the moment,” Quinton said this week.
“He’s really blossomed and he gets on well with this bloke (Monton).”
Monton had his last serious piece of work ahead of Saturday’s clash on Tuesday at Randwick and Quinton is confident that has bought him on enough for a good run on the weekend.
“He won over the track and distance two starts back and won this race three years ago,” Quinton said.
“He’s still very sound and going as well as ever.”
Following Monton in the Festival Stakes weights this year are then the Tony McEvoy-trained Mouro (59kg) and Aomen (58.5kg) for Anthony Cummings drawn at opposite ends of the field in barriers three and 13 respectively.
The American-bred Grand Slam stallion Mouro is second-up for the season, the Group 3 winner at Flemington during the autumn having run a solid second behind Heart Testa in a 1350m handicap here on November 15.
Aomen meanwhile has improving to do after the Shamardal seven-year-old failed in the Listed MSS Security Stakes (1200m) on Melbourne Cup Day running 17th (of 18 runners) behind Reparations.
Before that he beat home Monton at Randwick on October 11 over 1400m and so should be suited to a step back up in distance this weekend.
Sydney’s four-time premiership winning trainer Chris Waller has five in the race led by Strawberry Boy in barrier nine for Joshua Parr.
The Redoute’s Choice six-year-old beat Monton and Heart Testa home in the Ladies Day Cup earlier in the month carrying 57kg, and rises half a kilo to 57.5kg here as he shoots for back-to-back wins.
Waller’s other Festival Stakes hopes this weekend are Ladies Day Cup third placegetter Heart Testa coming off a win over Mouro from November 15, Hoylonny in barrier 12, I’m imposing coming off a 14th to Hucklebuck in the Group 1 Emirates Stakes (1600m) at Flemington from November 8 and Multilateral in the outside barrier for Glyn Schofield.
Other notable Festival Stakes runners include the John O’Shea-trained Generalife coming off a Group 3 Kevin Heffernan Stakes second at Sandown from November 15 and last start Gold Coast winner Sir Moments stabled with John Thompson for his stay in Sydney.
See below for the full Festival Stakes 2014 field, barriers, jockeys and weights.
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2014 Festival Stakes Final Field & Barrier Draw
Rosehill Race 6 (4:25pm) – 29/11/2014
|#||Form (Last 10)||Horse||Trainer||Jockey||Br.||Wgt.||Hcp. Rating|
|1||550×455212||MONTON||Ron Quinton||Sam Clipperton||10||60kg||108|
|2||011x1707x2||MOURO (USA)||Tony McEvoy||Kerrin McEvoy||3||59kg||106|
|3||6141127×10||AOMEN (IRE)||Anthony Cummings||–||13||58.5kg||105|
|4||302x7200x1||STRAWBERRY BOY||Chris Waller||Joshua Parr||9||57.5kg||103|
|5||13111×4332||GENERALIFE||John O’Shea||Blake Shinn||4||57kg||102|
|6||21226×7831||HEART TESTA||Chris Waller||Hugh Bowman||8||56.5kg||101|
|7||x361137x68||SCREAM MACHINE||Jason Coyle||Tim Clark||5||56kg||100|
|8||x5x1611x31||SIR MOMENTS||Steven O’dea||Timothy Bell||11||56kg||100|
|9||0x0029109x||HOYLONNY||Chris Waller||Jason Collett||12||55.5kg||99|
|10||5276128×20||I’M IMPOSING (GB)||Chris Waller||Tye Angland||6||55.5kg||99|
|11||1718×59255||ESTONIAN PRINCESS||Scott Aspery||Brenton Avdulla||1||54kg||95|
|12||6144140×00||MECIR||Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes||Dwayne Dunn||2||54kg||95|
|13||x75135176x||MULTILATERAL (USA)||Chris Waller||Glyn Schofield||14||54kg||95|
|14||x0391465x7||KEEP COOL (NZ)||Joseph Pride||–||7||54kg||91|