Winner of the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham in March, Willie Mullins’ charge was sent off the 1-3 favourite to make a winning debut in chase company.
All class - MONKFISH, winner of the Albert Bartlett at the 2020 #CheltenhamFestival, gets off the mark on his first start over fences, for @WillieMullinsNH🏇👏— Timeform (@Timeform) November 28, 2020
Thoughts on that performance folks? 🤔pic.twitter.com/Fe9WLxKpE2
Paul Townend had him settled in third as Sams Profile set the early gallop, with Monkfish travelling and jumping well throughout before moving to the front with a couple of fences to go.
Monkfish just had to be kept up to his work by Townend, with stablemate Ontheropes trying his best to make a race of it, but he was ultimately well held in finishing a four-length second, with Sams Profile a further seven and a half lengths back in third.
Paddy Power cut Monkfish to 9-2 from 8-1 for the three-mile Grade One novices’ chase at the Cheltenham Festival, formerly run as the RSA Chase.
Townend said: “You couldn’t ask for more. He missed the ditch where I gave him a squeeze and he changed his mind, but you couldn’t ask for any better the whole way around.
“I gave him one squeeze down to the last and he picked up well. He’s very good.”
Mullins added: “Monkfish was very impressive. Paul was pleased with him and I had to be as well. He’ll aim for Christmas.
“He’s grown up a lot since he was beaten over hurdles here about a year ago. His jumping was very accurate and it looks like fences will be his job.”