Monarch set to Chime back home

Smart jumper Monarch Chimes who is in line for another trip to Australia. Source: Trish Dunell

A bold performance in Saturday’s Te Whangai Romneys Hawke’s Bay Hurdle (3100m) could see star jumper Monarch Chimes book a return trip to Australia this winter.

The Emma-lee and David Browne-trained Monarch Chimes has already campaigned in Victoria this year, winning at Pakenham before finishing third in last month’s Brierly Steeplechase (4200m) at Warrnambool and fourth in the Grand Annual Steeplechase (5500m) at the same track two days later.

On the radar in Australia is the Grand National Hurdles (3400m) at Sandown on August 5 and the Grand National Steeplechase (4500m) at the same track a fortnight later.

“If he goes really well on Saturday, that will probably be his go,” David Browne said.

“Those races are worth $A250,000 and $A350,000 so it’s well worth a crack if he can show he’s going well enough.”

The suggestion from the stable is that he is.

“He’s done really well since came back from Victoria. His coat is terrific, almost like a summer coat,” Browne said.

“He’s come back well and his work has been good. He trialled the other day and was beaten a lip and Shaun Phelan was just sitting quietly on him. Shaun’s back on him on Saturday too and they get on pretty well together. We think he’ll go really well.”

Online bookmaker Ladbrokes opened Monarch Chimes as a $4.20 equal favourite with Kipkeino for the Hawke’s Bay Hurdles, with No Change at $4.50 and It’s A Wonder at $5.50 the next best in betting.

Browne said he and Emma-lee were happy to assess Monarch Chimes’ Hastings performance before confirming his programme but there were other appealing factors besides the superior prizemoney for a trip back to Victoria.

“Probably what held us up the most there last time was that you have to trial at Warrnambool before you race there,” Browne said.

“He slipped on a patch of slippery grass on the flat after he jumped and landed cleanly but the stipes made us go back and trial again and that just made a difference in getting him to the races the way we wanted to.

“Now he’s been there, we don’t have to trial. He can go straight into those races and that will make a big difference.”

Saturday’s hurdle will be Monarch Chimes’ first jumps race in New Zealand since he finished fourth in last year’s Great Northern Hurdles (4190m) at Ellerslie, his first hurdle defeat after winning his prior three starts in the role.

He has continued to race well on the flat, finishing second before heading to Victoria in the autumn and placing at Avondale earlier this month in his leadup to the Hawke’s Bay Hurdle.

“We just want to get him through this race and then we’ll be a lot clearer on what we do, then we can make a more serious plan, whether we stay here or go back over,” Browne said, suggesting a domestic alternative target could be the Wellington Hurdles (3400m) at Trentham on July 14.

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