14 Feb 2011 | 19:15
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Monksland handed Christmas targetHeadlines

Noel Meade will consider stepping Monksland up to three miles on his next appearance following a fine run in defeat in the Hatton's Grace Hurdle.

Third behind Simonsig at last season's Cheltenham Festival, the five-year-old registered his third win from four starts over hurdles with a stylish display on his return to action at Down Royal.

Stepped back up to Grade One level at Fairyhouse on Sunday, he found only Zaidpour too strong under Paul Carberry and the Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown could be next on his agenda.

"I thought he ran a good race and we might step him up to three miles now at Christmas. We haven't made a definite decision but that's an option for us," said Meade.

"He's still lightly raced and apart from Cheltenham, yesterday's race was the first time he's been really up against it. I thought he jumped well and finished off his race well, so I'm pleased."

Meade was more disappointed with the performance of Ned Buntline, who could only finish second when long odds-on for his hurdling debut at Fairyhouse on Saturday.

The trainer talked about the four-year-old in glowing terms after he bolted up in a Naas bumper last month, but a lacklustre round of jumping meant he failed to live up to expectations on his hurdles bow.

"I don't think that was the Ned Buntline I know," said the trainer.

"His jumping was a bit disappointing, he was a bit novicey and maybe running him over two and a quarter (miles) wasn't the best thing to do. He seems fine since the race and we'll just have to see if anything comes up in the next week or so, but I doubt that was his true running.

"We'll probably wait until Christmas time with him now."

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