Monksland may be stepped up to three miles

Noel Meade will consider stepping Monksland up to three miles on his next appearance following a fine run in defeat in the Hatton’s Grace Hurdle.

Third behind Simonsig at last season’s Cheltenham Festival, the five-year-old registered his third win from four starts over hurdles with a stylish display on his return to action at Down Royal.

Stepped back up to Grade One level at Fairyhouse on Sunday, he found only Zaidpour too strong under Paul Carberry and the Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown could be next on his agenda.

“I thought he ran a good race and we might step him up to three miles now at Christmas. We haven’t made a definite decision but that’s an option for us,” said Meade.

“He’s still lightly raced and apart from Cheltenham, yesterday’s race was the first time he’s been really up against it.

“I thought he jumped well and finished off his race well, so I’m pleased.”

Meade was more disappointed with the performance of Ned Buntline, who could only finish second when long odds-on for his hurdling debut at Fairyhouse on Saturday.

The trainer talked about the four-year-old in glowing terms after he bolted up in a Naas bumper last month, but a lacklustre round of jumping meant he failed to live up to expectations on his hurdles bow.

“I don’t think that was the Ned Buntline I know,” said the trainer.

“His jumping was a bit disappointing, he was a bit novicey and maybe running him over two and a quarter (miles) wasn’t the best thing to do.

“He seems fine since the race and we’ll just have to see if anything comes up in the next week or so, but I doubt that was his true running. We’ll probably wait until Christmas time with him now.”

Meanwhile Tony Martin was pleased with the performance in Dedigout after he finished a distant second to Arvika Ligeonniere in Sunday’s Drinmore Novice Chase at Fairyhouse.

Dedigout was sent off the even-money favourite to claim his second Grade One prize following a bloodless chasing debut success at Punchestown, but was unable to reel in Arvika Ligeonniere, who turned in an incredible front-running performance.

“He ran well and the winner is obviously a very good horse who has always been held in high regard by Willie Mullins. There is no disgrace in finishing second to him,” said Martin.

“Our horse looks like he’ll stay three miles all right and we know heavy ground isn’t a problem for him either.

“He seems fine this morning but we’ll just see how he is over the next few weeks, enter him up at Christmas and see how we go.”

Martin was even more delighted with the weekend performance of stable star Bog Warrior, who barely came off the bridle when scoring over hurdles on Saturday. The eight-year-old won last year’s Drinmore but a heavy fall last Christmas led to a disappointing end to the season.

He was in the process of running well on his reappearance at Down Royal until falling at the final fence and Martin hopes a confidence-boosting win over the smaller obstacles will have done him the world of good.

“He’s just a very good horse. He was unlucky last year as you don’t get over falls like he had quickly,” said Martin.

“We’ve taken our time with him and we were delighted with him on Saturday. There doesn’t seem to be a bother on him.

“He was running a good race in the north (Down Royal) the time before and just got tired, so it was nice to see him do what he did the other day. I don’t know where he’ll go next. We’ll just go easy with him and see.”


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