Neville Hotels Novice Chase
|Grade 1, Leopardstown 13:50
3m, Class 1
|Tuesday 29th December 2020|
1 Monkfish 1/2F
2 Latest Exhibition 4/1
3 Conflated 15/2
6 ran Distances: 3l, 58l, 63l
Time: 6m 24.90s (slow by 42.90s)
Great finish - the exciting MONKFISH fends off the attention of Latest Exhibition to claim Grade 1 honours over fences at @LeopardstownRC! 🇮🇪🏆— Timeform (@Timeform) December 29, 2020
Another winner on the day for @WillieMullinsNH and @PTownend! 👏pic.twitter.com/nBsGln2nGD
There was very little between the pair when Monkfish just prevailed in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March, and they dominated the finish in this Grade One too.
Paul Nolan’s Latest Exhibition arrived on the back of a slightly disappointing defeat in Grade Two company last time out, having won on his chasing debut, but he did have the benefit of one extra run over fences.
Monkfish took over the running just after halfway for Paul Townend – and just as he had on his chasing bow, jumped with aplomb.
However, while at one stage it looked like he may just pull further clear, Bryan Cooper moved Latest Exhibition up alongside him on the run to the second last.
There was nothing between them as they raced at full pelt around the final bend and approached the last fence – and both met it on a decent stride.
After the last Monkfish just had a bit more speed, though, and Willie Mullins’ giant pulled three lengths clear as the champion trainer registered yet another notable Christmas success.
“It was a very good performance from a horse having his second run over fences, to take on more experienced rivals at a Grade One track. I was very pleased with that,” said Mullins.
“It didn’t seem to be a problem – even when he was meeting one wrong, he shortened himself. He seems to be a natural over fences.
“There was a lot of pressure on him going to the last, with Latest Exhibition -who has a bit more experience than him. He pulled himself together, fought his way over it, and he just had a little bit in reserve.
“I’d imagine we’ll look at the Flogas Chase. We’ll focus on that first – and if all goes well we can look at Cheltenham after that.”
Neville Hotels Novice Steeplechase
3m, Race Value: €85,000
1 Monkfish 6 11-12 W P Mullins Paul Townend 1/2F
2 3 Latest Exhibition 7 11-12 Paul Nolan B J Cooper 4/1
3 58 Conflated 6 11-12 Gordon Elliott Jack Kennedy 15/2
4 63 Heaven Help Us 6 11-5 Paul Hennessy David Mullins 66/1
RO Foxy Jacks 6 11-12 M F Morris Rachael Blackmore 66/1
UR Eurobot 6 11-12 Noel Meade Sean Flanagan 12/1