Monton Leads 2014 Festival Stakes Field

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.

Monton

2011 Festival Stakes winner Monton returns for a fourth shot at the race this Saturday. Photo: Steve Hart.

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

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