14 Feb 2011 | 19:15
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Monksland wins Christmas crackerHeadlines

Monksland (11-4) gained his revenge over Zaidpour with a cosy success in the Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown.

Noel Meade's five-year-old overturned a defeat in the Hatton's Grace at Fairyhouse with the help of a 2lb pull over Willie Mullins' runner.

Whatuthink set out to make all the running and held a big advantage at one stage. However, he was swallowed up before the final flight where Zaidpour jumped into the lead, but Paul Carberry delivered Monksland with a perfectly-timed challenge on the far side to swoop for a two-and-a-half-length verdict.

Meade said: "Paul said he was struggling in the ground, but he just left him alone and gave him that half a furlong for a breather. He got a bit of air back into his lungs, gave him a bit of a break and was able to come home. It worked out really well for him.

"I didn't really know if he would stay (three miles), but sometimes with those horses that win bumpers you usually find they stay really well. He never lets you down."

Bookmaker reaction to his chance in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle, which will be minus Big Buck's this season, was swift, with William Hill halving Monksland in price from 16-1 to 8-1.

Meade said: "The World Hurdle is open enough now, but we'll live for today. He's a very young horse, he's only five and he's very easy to train. He had a hard race today and might not run before Cheltenham."

Carberry said: "He wasn't mad about the ground. It's a bit sticky. He was struggling on it so I sat up on him a bit and he got a second wind and did very well to get up. He's a class horse. That's the worst the ground has been all week, very gluey."

Zaidpour's trainer Mullins and jockey Walsh went one better when Supreme Carolina (5-1) prevailed in the Star Best For Racing Christmas Rated Hurdle.

There were plenty in with chances at the final flight but it was Supreme Carolina who showed the neatest turn of foot to take the honours. Persian Gayle fought hard but was beaten half a length with Pires just behind in third.

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