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Weekend Review - Monksland a major contender for Neptune

Monksland an exciting prospect for Meade

Fingal Bay has been the name on everyone's lips in recent months as their potential banker in the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, but a new contender burst on to the scene on Sunday in Noel Meade's Monksland.

Tony Martin's Dedigout was fancied to grab the honours of the Grade Two Slaney Novice Hurdle, but it would be Meade's five-year-old that shone at Naas with a thunderous performance in the 2m 4f contest. 

Travelling like a dream for Paul Carberry in behind the Dedigout, he was sent to win the race between the last two flights.  He made a sticky jump at the last, but when Carberry urged him clear he duly picked up in tremendous fashion to eventually win by four-and-a-half lengths. 

Meade has already indicated that the son of Beneficial is Cheltenham-bound and will line up for the Neptune and currently widely available at 16/1 for the 2m 5f contest is definitely a generous price about the gelding.

Outlining is plans for the Festival, Meade was unsure whether to hand him another prep run before the race on March 14, but having indicated he is an easy horse to get fit, is sure to be one that will be a lively contender for Philip Hobbs' Fingal Bay.

Mullins' Un Atout has Cheltenham Bumper credentials

Willie Mullins may have unearthed yet another gem in Un Atout, as his youngster was instantly slashed for the Champion Bumper after a facile success at Naas on January 8.

The Co. Carlow alwyas produces a exemplary crop for the Cheltenham Festial national hunt flat race and this could well be another to watch out for come March 13 as he storemd to a 24-length victory.

With Dermot Weld having taken out the exciting Silver Concorde before the race, it seemed a foregone conclusion for the Gigginstown House Stud raider, who was sent off 2/7 favourite.  However, the style he showed throughout was one to take note of as he quickened impressively for Patrick Mullins in the heavy going and is one to keep in the notebook for the bumper scene.

Hutchinson continues to impress in the saddle

When your chance comes along, you have to take it with both hands and that is exactly what Wayne Hutchinson has done in recent weeks and the national hunt jockey continues to impress in the saddle.

To the demise of Robert Thornton, who has been on the sidelines for the last few weeks, Hutchinson has been given the plum job of piloting Alan King's top string and he certainly has risen to the occasion.

This was highlighted with his outstanding ride aboard Hold On Julio at Sandown Park, who eventually beat Neptune Collonges by nine lengths.  However, it wasn't all plain sailing for the emerging chaser as he made a whole host of jumping errors, especially at the Railway fences, but Hutchinson gave the nine-year-old chance to fill his lungs, even though he was off the pace.

Turning for home, Hutchinson had cajoled his mount into the slipstream of Qhilimar and he duly went passed with aplomb to eventually win with lots in hand to just bolster Hutchinson's CV.

One To Watch

Fire Fighter was closing gradually in the 32Red Poker Juvenile Hurdle at Sandown Park on Saturday before a last flight blunder stopped his momentum and he had to settle for third place behind Colebrooke.  However, he is one to watch on his next outing and if Alan King can improve his jumping then he could well be a lively Triumph Hurdle contender come March.