This Saturday in Sydney, the Ron Quinton-trained Monton will look to break a 120 year hoodoo and become the first dual Villiers Stakes winner in history.
The veteran Catbird eight-year-old is one of 17 hopefuls nominated for this year’s $175,000 Group 2 Villiers Stakes (1600m) running at Royal Randwick on the weekend as the latest Sydney Summer Racing Carnival feature.
The handicap clash has been a graveyard for previous champions over the years with no horse able to secure more than one edition of the Villiers Stakes since it was first run in 1892 and won by Two Up.
Monton has run in the Villiers Stakes for the past three years, winning back in 2011 on the back of a victory in the Listed Festival Stakes (1500m).
It was an impressive Villiers Stakes success from him then too as he overcame barrier 15 of 16 and carried 58kg to victory meeting the runner-up Kontiki Park (52kg) six kilos worse in the weights.
The subsequent two years however have failed to produce the same results for Monton.
In 2012 he was runner-up in the Festival Stakes before a Villiers Stakes ninth then last year he ran eighth in the Festival Stakes ahead of his fourth behind Ninth Legion in the Group 2.
This year Monton was travelling sweetly into his fourth straight Festival Stakes at Rosehill winning an open handicap over the same track and distance in October before a close second to the Chris Waller-trained Strawberry Boy in the Listed Ladies Day Cup (1400m) at Hawkesbury on November 6.
Things went amiss in the Festival Stakes however when he failed to handle the 60kg top weight or wide barrier 10 draw crossing seven lengths away 11th behind the Waller-trained winner I’m Imposing.
Saturday sees him get a chance to atone as he faces a similar field including his last two conquerors who make up two of the possible three Villiers Stakes hopefuls for Waller, after his first win in the race since Honor In War in 2008, along with Multilateral.
Quinton is willing to forgive his horse the Festival Stakes run last time out and believes he can bounce back and be a competitive force in the Villiers Stakes.
“The ‘old boy’ was trapped wide from a bad barrier and Sam (Clipperton) had to go back early in the race,” Quinton told The Daily Telegraph speaking of the luckless Festival Stakes run.
“Monton just got too far back and couldn’t get into the race after that. He’s pulled up well and looks great so we will press on to the Villiers.”
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