Cheltenham Gold Cup Contenders: Monalee profile

Monalee (right) is a lively outsider for the 2020 Cheltenham Gold Cup
Monalee (right) is a lively outsider for the 2020 Cheltenham Gold Cup

Lewis Tomlinson continues our Cheltenham Gold Cup countdown by profiling former RSA Chase runner-up Monalee, who is a lively outsider for this year's showpiece race at the Cheltenham Festival on March 13...

Monalee

Trainer: Henry De Bromhead
Age: 9
Owner: Mr Barry Moloney
Races: 19
Wins: 5
Notable Race Wins: 2017 Mercedes-Benz Novices’ Hurdle, 2018 Flogas Novices’ Chase, 2019 Red Mills Chase

Career Record

Runner-up at the Cheltenham Festival as both a novice hurdler, when second to Penhill in the 2017 Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle, and as a novice chaser, only bested by Presenting Percy in the RSA Chase a year later, Monalee is an intriguing Cheltenham Gold Cup contender for Henry De Bromhead.

All three of his previous seasons over obstacles have seen him notch a victory in Graded company, most notably when defeating reigning Gold Cup champion Al Boum Photo in the Grade 1 Flogas Novice Chase in February 2018.

He established himself as a classy operator in open company last season; finishing second behind Kemboy in the Savills Chase, before making light work of a drop in trip and grade for an unchallenged victory in the Red Mills Chase over 2m 4f at Gowran Park. This provided the De Bromhead team a dilemma as to whether to keep Monalee over an intermediate trip, or whether to revert back to staying distances for a Gold Cup tilt. The Ryanair Chase eventually proved the more tempting option at the 2019 Cheltenham Festival, and Monalee travelled well, but was seemingly found wanting for the extra yard of pace required to land a blow in the race, finishing a steady fourth.

Monalee was obviously in need of this campaign’s return at Clonmel, and produced a much improved performance in this season’s highly competitive Savills Chase, only finishing a head behind Delta Work, despite Rachael Blackmore losing her irons after the last.

Positives

Last Time Out: Monalee’s narrow second to Delta Work in the Savills Chase was arguably the best performance of his career. Under a front-running ride from Rachael Blackmore, Monalee looked likely to be swamped by several rivals after the home turn, but creditably stuck to his task, putting further distance between himself and his closest pursuers, before the patiently ridden Delta Work overhauled him in the shadows of the post.  That form has been boosted by Delta Work following up in the Irish Gold Cup- and if we take it literally, Monalee could represent value in the Gold Cup betting, given he’s double the price of both Kemboy and Presenting Percy, both of whom he had in behind at Leopardstown.

De Bromhead & Blackmore: What a campaign this trainer/jockey partnership are having - Notebook, Honeysuckle and A Plus Tard all notched their first Grade One wins this season for the classy combination. The typically sound jumping of a De Bromhead horse hadn’t previously quite been a hallmark of Monalee’s game, but his two starts this season have produced less mistakes than was previously usual. It will be a huge plus if that holds together at Cheltenham.

Negatives

Grade One Record: Monalee’s victory in the Flogas Novice Chase in 2018 remains his sole Grade 1 victory from a total of eleven attempts. He certainly merits his place in the line-up for a Championship event, but his overall body of form suggests he’s several pounds short of the usual standard needed to win a race of this calibre. A Gold Cup win would represent a clear career best.

The Trip: Stamina doubts surrounding Monalee surely played a part in the decision to run him in the Ryanair last year - would anything he’s done this season help to allay them? We already know he stays three miles, but that looks to be closer to the maximum than the minimum regarding his ideal trip - an extra two furlongs up the Cheltenham hill may not play to strengths.

How will Monalee fare in the 2020 Cheltenham Gold Cup?

Monalee is fascinating in the respect that he’s seemingly the only credible Gold Cup contender whose connections will have had a decision to make regarding which Festival target was most suitable for their horse. Given his showing in last year’s Ryanair and his performance at Leopardstown over Christmas, tackling this year’s Gold Cup looks to be the right option this time around. However, Monalee doesn’t particularly stand out as a typical “Gold Cup type” and is yet to face as big of a test of stamina as he will do at Cheltenham this time around, so questions asked about how much he’ll have left in the tank when faced with the famous hill are valid, especially given his efforts over an easier three miles haven’t suggested that a further few furlongs would see him to best effect.

Cheltenham Festival Tips
£20 Risk Free Bet
New customers only. Place your FIRST bet on any sportsbook market and if it loses we will refund your stake in CASH. Max refund for this offer is €/£20. T&Cs apply. 18+ begambleaware.org
Bet £10 Get £30 in Free Bets
New customers using Promo Code P30 only, min £10/€10 stake, min odds 1/2, free bets paid as 2 x £15/€15 (30 days expiry), free bet/payment method/player/country restrictions apply. T&C's apply, 18+ begambleaware.org
Welcome Offer
Up to £100 in Bet Credits for new customers at bet365. Min deposit £5 and 1x settled bet requirement to release Bet Credits. Min odds, bet and payment method exclusions apply. Returns exclude Bet Credits stake. Time limits and T&C's apply, 18+ begambleaware.org.
Bet £5 Get £30
New Customers only. Deposit and place a £5 qualifying bet at odds of 2.00 or greater within 7 days of opening a new account; excludes cashed out bets. Receive 2x £10 Sports/Virtual Sports Free Bets, valid on set events only at odds 2.00 or greater, expires in 7 days, plus a £10 Casino Bonus, expires in 7 days. Wager the Casino Bonus 35x to withdraw winnings. Payment Cards only. Geographical Restrictions and T&Cs Apply. Please Gamble Responsibly
Bet £10 Get Up To £40 Free Bets
New 18+ UK customers only. Promo period from 00:00 01/06/20 and 23:59 21/06/20. Register using the promo code BETFRED40a, deposit and place first bet of £10 (Evens+) in one bet transaction. £30 in Free Bets credited within 10 hours of bet settlement and expire after 7 days. Additional £10 in Free Bets only credited if first bet doesn’t win. E-Wallet & Prepaid Card restrictions apply. SMS validation may be required. Full T&Cs Apply. 18+ begambleaware.org
Bet £10 & Get £30 Free Bets + £10 Casino Bonus
Minimum deposit of £10 using deposit code 30F - A qualifying bet is a ‘real money’ stake of at least £10 placed on any sports market - Minimum odds of 1/2 (1.5) - Free bets credited upon qualifying bet settlement and expire after 7 days - Free bet stakes not included in returns - Casino Bonus must be claimed within 7 days • To withdraw bonus/related wins, wager bonus amount x40 within 14 days • Wagering req. vary by game • Withdrawal restrictions and Full T&C’s apply. 18+ begambleaware.org
£25 Bet Bundle
18+. UK Customers (Excluding NI) only. Cash stakes only. Min £10 stake required for initial £5 free bet. Min odds ½. Max £25 in free bets. Subsequent free bets equal 50% average of each 3 qualifying bets. 13 bets required to receive full £25 free bet. Qualifying bet must be placed within 30 days of opening account. Cashed out bets will not qualify towards your average stake. One free bet offer per customer, household or IP address only. Free bet expires after 7 days. Payment method restrictions apply. T&Cs apply.
Free £20 Exchange Bet
New customers only, bet up to €/£20 on the Exchange and if your first bet loses, we’ll refund you €/£20 in Cash. Bet must be placed in first 7 days of account opening. T&Cs apply, 18+ begambleaware.org
Up To £40 In Bonuses If Your First Bet Loses +£10 Casino Bonus
New customers only. 18+, BeGambleAware.org. Min deposit £10. Money back as bonus. Wagering requirements: Sportsbook 3x at min. odds of 1.40 (2/5), Casino 25x. Only one bonus can be used at a time, Sportsbook bonus must be wagered before using the Casino, unless the bonus has been forfeited. Bonus will expire after 7 days of opt-in.T&C's apply.