Will Monmiral go chasing in 2021/22?
The short answer is probably not. Previewing the 2021/22 season his Betfair column in early October, 2021, trainer Paul Nicholls wrote that Monmiral ‘will probably stay hurdling this year’, but added that ‘nothing is set in stone’. However, Nicholls and the owners of Monmiral, who include Sir Alex Ferguson and John Hales, have made no secret of the fact that they consider the Saint Des Saints gelding a steeplechaser in the making. Interviewed in January, 2021, by which time Monmiral was 2-2 for his new yard, following his transfer from French trainer Francois Nicolle the previous November, Nicholls said, ‘He won’t even have an entry in the Triumph Hurdle.’
His decision was vindicated when Monmiral won the Victor Ludorum Juvenile Hurdle at Haydock and the Anniversary 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle at Aintree on his next two starts to maintain his unbeaten record. Indeed, on the latter occasion, he beat the Triumph Hurdle runner-up, Adagio, by 7½ lengths at level weights and, in so doing, earned the highest Timeform rating, 151p, of any juvenile hurdler in 2020/21. Of course, Adagio has since finished a close second, under 11st 12lb, in the Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham on his return to action following wind surgery, so the Aintree form could yet prove even better than it did at the time.
As far as 2021/22 is concerned, Nicholls has said that Monmiral will reappear in the first Grade 1 hurdle race of the season, the Fighting Fifth Hurdle, at Newcastle in late November. He has, so far, declined to commit to future targets, but does seem keem on the idea of running Monmiral in the Aintree Hurdle, over two-and-a-half miles, at the Grand National Festival in April; Nicholls last won that race with Zarkandar in 2013.