Racing: Monton has class on his side

By Mike Dillon

Monton is a worthy favourite today. Photo / Alan Gibson
Monton is a worthy favourite today. Photo / Alan Gibson

If you weigh Monton's chances alongside the overall record of Australian raiders in the past four years he would be $1.85 for tomorrow's $200,000 Blandford Lodge Railway at Ellerslie.

His trainer Tim Martin has been here only once before with a 3-year-old, Redoute's Dancer, and went home with the $100,000 Championship Stakes and $700,000 Mercedes Derby.

In the past 12 months A Gold Trail was too smart in the Railway and Sister Havana made them look ordinary in the $1 million Karaka Million in February.

Monton was last night $3 with the New Zealand TAB, a price that at least as much reflects the fact that the agency does not want more money for the Sydney sprinter after opening him up at $11 as it does his actual chance in the group one sprint.

We all know Australia produces the world's best sprinters - A Gold Trail dominated the Railway a year ago from the front.

The potential problem with Monton is he is not a leader, which means potentially he will be dictated to, rather than do the dictating like A Gold Trail.

It is always difficult to line up form from across the Tasman - either way - so we asked astute Melbourne form analyst Dean Lester.

"My worry with Monton is that he could already be looking for 1400m."

His last-start fresh winning performance in Sydney?

"That was just an average handicap and you wouldn't judge him on that.

"You need to judge him on winning races like the Hobartville Stakes in his previous preparation where he beat any number of group one winners."

Monton has drawn No 4 and as just a fair beginner he will probably end up mid-field on the rail, from where he and Hugh Bowman will need luck from the home corner.

"I thought the Telegraph would be much more his race," says Lester.

It's probably fair to say Ellerslie won't ideally suit Monton, but he might just be too classy.

Atapi is entitled to respect. He flew into second - beaten a long neck - behind A Gold Trail in the Railway a year ago and that has been pretty much the story of his career in the big races, even though he has won 11 times.

In the Railway two years ago, he finished fourth to Jacowils, beaten only half a length after which he again dashed home quickly into second behind Mufhasa in the Telegraph.

The final 150m of his last-start sprint win at Ellerslie was stylish and on 55kg, the same weight as a year ago, he rates.

Mufhasa is the interesting runner. In four starts, he has won only once at Ellerslie, in a minor 3-year-old event, his best form invariably being on left- handed tracks like Te Rapa, Trentham, Hastings and Riccarton.

Trainer Steve McKee says Mufhasa has been working in impressive style and said a few days ago he was praying for a good barrier. Mufhasa has drawn No 1.

If you can ignore the right-handed track he is right in this race.

Graham Richardson has always had a big opinion of Italian Princess and the mare's two wins from her only starts this preparation confirm that.

He feels Italian Princess is still a bit away from full maturity and her chances here may depend on whether she gets to lead on her own without pressure or if she can settle in a trail.

You wouldn't normally tip a horse in a group one race with a 80060 formline, but Beautiful Girl has had no luck since joining the stable of Yves Seguin. From the No 5 gate, Jason Collett should be able to track the speed and be in the right spot to finish off. She is the value in the race.

Vonusti, who has been looking good lately, has 58kg, but he is a must-include for exotic tickets.

Things will either go against Monton, or he will prove too smart.


* Monton is the hot $3 favourite with the TAB, but there are a couple of possible negatives for the Australian.

* Where he will position up from his inside gate is possibly one of them.

* His best Australian form overshadows that of his rivals.

- NZ Herald

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