Meade tips Apache to fly high after Monksfield win
GIGGINSTOWN had three runners, including the favourite, Azorian, trained by Eoin Griffin, Willie Mullins had two runners with Alelchi Inois the unbeaten stable first choice, and Aidan O'Brien saddled Carriganog, who was ridden by Tony McCoy in the JP McManus colours.
Yesterday's Grade Two Monksfield Hurdle had eight runners, all of whom had won last time out, and if the race had carried a Grade One tag few would have raised an eyebrow because of the quality it attracted.
And the winner, Apache Stronghold, looks a real Grade One type after cruising to a three-length win. Meade was winning the Grade Two contest for the fourth time in six years and Apache Stronghold is certainly looking like fulfilling the potential Meade always felt he had.
His affection for the Patricia and Paul Hunt-owned five-year-old was clear when talking afterwards and looking at the horse as he walked away from the winners enclosure, Meade said: "He is something really to look forward to, isn't he?"
He added: "To be honest it looked a very strong race so we'd have been happy to win but to win like that is certainly an added bonus.
"Paul (Carberry) said he cantered the whole way and he jumped well apart from the last.
"At Punchestown he was a bit leary and you have to remember in those maiden hurdles you are making on a lot of horses who have ran in point to points, whereas he hadn't."
As for future plans, the trainer added: "The obvious race to come back for is the Navan Hurdle but there is a lot out there and the horse in the first race looked very exciting too (Moyle Park) and every time you turn around Willie (Mullins) has something else to unleash but at least we have something to take him on with now."
Of Carberry's recent return, Meade concluded: "It's great to have him back and for him to get that confidence back is a big help.
"Sometimes you find when they come back that something goes wrong or they make a mistake and while I wouldn't say he is fully right yet, I said to him not to come back half-right as I didn't want half a Paul Carberry (pictured).
"I suppose that put a bit of pressure on him but it also made him work harder. He makes it look so easy."
Boylesports introduced the Milan gelding at 16/1 for the Neptune and 14/1 for the Albert Bartlett.