Past experience has Ron Quinton cautious about an Epsom Handicap start for Monton and the trainer isn’t looking any further than a Group Two win at Rosehill on Saturday.
The trainer will put blinkers on Monton in the Shannon Stakes (1500m) to help keep him sharp but has not committed to a start in the Group One Epsom (1600m) a week later.
“At this stage we are not looking beyond Saturday,” Quinton said.
“The Epsom is not a certainty. The only times I’ve put him in a big mile at Randwick he’s drawn badly so we’ll see what he does on Saturday first.”
Monton ran sixth from barrier 13 of 15 in last year’s Epsom and 12th of 19 from barrier 16 in the 2012 Doncaster.
His most recent start was inconclusive as far as Monton’s form is concerned with the gelding forced to go back from yet another wide barrier when unplaced in the Theo Marks Stakes won by Riva De Lago.
“I couldn’t believe that a race with Rain Affair in it could be run like it was,” Quinton said.
“Sam (Clipperton) had no choice but to go back and that didn’t suit Monton.
“With the blinkers on on Saturday he will be ridden closer to the front. I will tell stewards I want him ridden forward.”
Centennial Park (100) and Monton (99) are the highest rated horses in the Shannon which carried a ballot exemption to the Epsom for the winner.
The lightly raced Our Desert Warrior, a brother to dual Epsom winner Desert War (2004-05), would need to win the Shannon to make the field for the big race.
Trained by Gai Waterhouse, Our Desert Warrior has won three of his six starts including his past two in restricted midweek races.
European import Salon Soldier is set to make a delayed Australian debut after being withdrawn from last week’s Cameron Handicap at Newcastle.
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