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Monkfish makes light work of rivals on reappearance

3 minute read

Monkfish returned from 273 days off the track to land the Grade 2 Galmoy Hurdle at Gowran Park on Thursday afternoon.

MONKFISH. Picture: Pat Healy Photography

Fresh off the back of saddling four winners at Fairyhouse yesterday, three of which were ridden by Paul Townend, Willie Mullins quickly found himself back in the winners' circle courtesy of Monkfish's successful return to action at Gowran Park.

The now ten-year-old looked to carry all before him following his commanding six-and-a-half length success in the Grade 1 Brown Advisory Novices' Chase at the 2021 Cheltenham Festival. The Willie Mullins-trained son of Stowaway lost his unbeaten record over fences when second at Punchestown the following month before a subsequent tendon would keep him off the track for nearly two years.

Monkfish returned from his lengthy absence to fill the runner-up spot over hurdles at Fairyhouse last April but disappointed when trailing home last of nine in the Grade 1 Ladbrokes Champion Stayers Hurdle at Punchestown just seventeen days later.

A further nine months off the track would await the talented Mullins inmate, who missed his intended return to action at Tramore on New Year's Day due to a small issue. However, the sizeable ten-year-old, who was held up last of the four throughout under Paul Townend, would once again return to the winners' enclosure after producing a power-packed finish to beat the front-running 2018 Supreme Novices' Hurdle winner Summerville Boy by five and a half lengths.

Paddy Power cut the winner from 66/1 to 16/1 for further Cheltenham Festival success in the Stayers' Hurdle, although assistant trainer Patrick Mullins was keen to keep options open at this stage.

Mullins said: "He hasn't missed any training (this season), we just hadn't got him out, so we were happy his fitness would hold up. We thought he was a Gold Cup horse once upon a time, but that is a great start to his season and hopefully, he can build on it now.

"We were supposed to start him at Tramore on New Year's Day, but he got a little bang, so we decided to wait for this. He is in the Gold Cup and Stayers' Hurdle, but all options are open, and it will be a case of what race suits, when he is ready.

"We won't rush him back and Cheltenham is only seven weeks away, so he'll probably go straight there. The decision regarding which race he runs in will be a Willie special.

"Ruth Dudfield does a fantastic job in keeping him sound and we'll just hope he is OK in the morning. Touch wood, at his age, he will stand up to it."

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