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Jumping making Monarch feel like a king

7 September 2017, 1:56 p.m.

Monarch Chimes is loving his new-found vocation as a hurdler.

The Shinko King six-year-old had long been a problem child for Cambridge trainers Emma-Lee and David Browne, but has transformed into a model racehorse since his transition to jumping.

Monarch Chimes Photo: Trish Dunell Photography

"He just loves it," Emma-Lee Browne said.

"It's quite special to see. It's as though this was always what he was meant to do because since going jumping everything has changed with him. He's a different horse because of it.

"He was always a picky eater and a bit sour, but now he's the king. It's very amusing to see the change in his characteristics. He's eating as well as any horse in the stable and that's all down to him loving the jumping."

Monarch Chimes is unbeaten in three starts over fences and, remarkably for a horse who hadn't even had a jumping race at the beginning of July, he will start favourite in Saturday's Schweppes Great Northern Hurdles (4190m) at Ellerslie.

"If he jumps as well as he has and everything goes well in running, he can win," Browne said.

"But it's different to flat racing. A horse can come around the bend in a flat race full of running and you get a bit confident, but with jumps racing there's always those fences still to jump. I don't think you can ever get confident going into a jumps race."

Monarch Chimes will be the Brownes' first runner in a Great Northern, though there's a family history of success with David's grandparents Ann and her late husband, Ken, claiming four wins in the hurdles and 10 in the steeples.

"David had the idea for ages, probably two years, that he was going to jump Monarch Chimes. We only started jumping him this year when he started losing focus in his races and we thought we've got to do something," Browne said.

"He's going really, really well. We're really happy with him."

Monarch Chimes secured favouritism for the Great Northern with a courageous win in the Harrison Lane Hurdle (3350m) at Ellerslie a fortnight ago, lifting late to deny El Corby by half a length despite nearly falling after making a bad jump at the last.

"It was horrible. I actually thought he was going down," Browne said.

"But Shaun [Phelan, rider] was very clever in managing to stay on and the horse was very clever to stay on his feet. They did very well together."

However, a careless riding suspension stemming from the early stages of that race has cost Phelan his chance to win the Northern on Monarch Chimes and Will Gordon takes the reins on Saturday.

"It was gutting for everyone because Shaun had done all the jumping on him since he first went over logs," Browne said.

"But we are confident with Will. He's done a good job for us with our other jumpers and Shaun will tell him how best to ride him.

"He had a quiet school on Tuesday with Will, so he could have a sit on him and get a feel of how he jumps. It was also good to get him jumping after that last fence at Ellerslie to make sure he wasn't backing off them - and he wasn't. 

"He jumped really well. He had a sprint up the straight this morning so he's ready." - NZ Racing Desk.