Warren Greatrex has One vision
Grade One glory is something enjoyed only by a privileged few on a regular basis but is a group trainer Warren Greatrex is fast starting to force his way into.
Warren Greatrex has high hopes for Missed Approach
While there was no repeat victory for Cole Harden in the World Hurdle at Cheltenham in March, the Upper Lambourn handler secured the second top-level winner of his career in April, after One Track Mind came of age in the champion stayers' hurdle at Punchestown.
With a switch to fences on the agenda for his new stable star, who is as short as 12-1 for next year's RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, Greatrex is hoping the six-year-old can be equally effective over the bigger obstacles and take his career to new heights.
"Rather than go to Cheltenham we decided to give him extra time and go to Punchestown and take on horses that had been to the festivals," said Greatrex.
"It was no fluke he did it exceptionally well and the form has worked out good with the second horse winning at Royal Ascot.
"When we bought him as a three-year-old we thought he could be our Gold Cup horse in years to come.
"He has everything you want he travels and jumps for fun. He has plenty of class and stays extremely well, which is what you want.
"I wouldn't mind missing Cheltenham and going to Punchestown again. He never does great out at summer and this was the best one he has had.
"We will start him somewhere small early November over two and a half and go from there.
"He has had a school this year over baby fences and I've no doubt he will be good over fences as he jumped hurdles very well."
Things failed to work out for Cole Harden in three outings last season, but Greatrex has every confidence the seven-year-old can prosper once more on his switch to chasing this term, having had an issue with a troublesome knee addressed.
"He had some cartilage removed from his knee," said Greatrex.
"He has not had a summer holiday as he can get very fat in the field, so he has been in all the time recuperating from that. We've had a few blips with him, but we seem to be on the move now.
"He will go novice chasing. I want to give him the easiest time possible as it will give him confidence and we will see the best of him.
"I can probably bring him back in trip so I can keep a bit more petrol in the tank and he won't have Grade One horses snapping at his heels, that is if he takes to fences which Gavin (Sheehan) thinks he will.
"If he has not taken to fences then we might have to go the World Hurdle route again."
Not every trainer can boast two Listed National Hunt Flat-winning mares ready in their yard. Greatrex is one of the lucky few, with both The Nipper and La Bague Au Roi now set to have their attentions switched to hurdling over the forthcoming campaign.
He said: "The Nipper won impressively on her first two starts, then at Sandown she gave me a heart attack by hanging all the way across the track.
"She went to Punchestown going very well with about six furlongs to go, when she managed to go the wrong side of a doll.
"Nina Carberry said it was her fault and not the horse and she was in no question she would have won that day.
"She is high class and I almost think that the hurdles will help her. They will keep her concentrating. She is big and double the size of last year.
"We will start in a mares' hurdle over two as she will gallop them into the ground, but she will stay two and a half, although she is not slow. The sky is her limit and I would be very surprised if she was not among the top few mares in the country."
He went on: "La Bague Au Roi was high class last year. She did it well first time at Aintree, then in a Listed race at Huntingdon, but it was trainer error after that as I should have sent her away.
"The ground was too soft at Aintree and it was very gluey that first day. She was there turning in, but didn't quite get home. She is definitely stronger and her work has improved.
"She will start at two miles as she has got bags of pace. At a few of her schooling sessions last year she was a bit complacent but we've done plenty of schooling this season and she has been very good. There would not be a lot between her and The Nipper."
Most yards have a horse lurking among their ranks that while showing elements of promise are still yet to fulfil the potential they offer and in Boudry is a horse that could fall into that category.
Greatrex is confident the five-year-old can make a mark now switched to hurdles.
He added: "He is a horse Gavin is keen on. He should have won his first bumper at Taunton and he should have won at Towcester. He then hosed up at Newcastle and then he finished fifth in the Doncaster Sales bumper at Newbury.
"He will go hurdling and he jumps very well. We will start him at two miles and he goes in any ground.
"Some of the performances he produced last year have said he is fairly smart. He will likely start off the beginning of November. He is high up on the list of my novice hurdlers."
Warren Greatrex with an insight on the rest of his big hopes for the season:
"He won his first three starts last year and went off favourite at Cheltenham. To be fair he looked the winner at the top of the hill that day and Gavin (Sheehan) thought he was. He never came down the hill on the faster ground. He has done well over the summer, we had a little bit of a setback about a month ago, but he seems OK now. It is a case of where we go. The lad who rides him wants him to go to the BetVictor Chase as he thinks he will win it. What I might do is wait and go for what was the old Tripleprint at Cheltenham, which is a month later.
"It might just be we give him a hurdle run, then aim him at that. I've not ruled out the BetVictor, but I think it might come a bit quick. He does need soft ground, but I think there is still a bit of improvement in him. He could be a horse I take to Ireland through the winter."
"He has had two runs in points and unseated on his first, then he was second on his next run. He does everything right at home and jumps well. He is a proper staying type. He is a nice horse and will start off in a bumper."
"He won his first two starts last season then was running a hell of a race in the Eider but he just got to close to one and toppled down. We will be looking at those similar sort of races. His jumping tends to be good, but he can miss the odd one.
"He is a bit behind as he has a little issue with a back leg, but it is nothing severe. He would have to improve a bit to be a National horse and I think he would prefer smaller fences and where they go a bit slower."
"He is two from four. Last year we really struggled with his wind and he had two wind operations. He has been quiet until recently. He looked good then he went lifeless. We did loads of tests and couldn't find anything wrong. I don't know if it was because we trained him a bit and he was struggling with his wind then sulked.
"We've cracked on now and done some schooling and he seems much better in himself. He is a real athlete and a high-class horse. Hopefully we have got past that blip."
"He is rated mid 120s. He will stay hurdling this year as he was very babyish last year. He is a bit of a Jack the Lad.
"He wears a hood at home and not on the track just to keep a lid on him. He will just progress. He will stay well and get three miles by the end of the year.
"He will be quite an exciting chaser in time. He just holds a bit back for himself. "
CHALK IT DOWN
"He has been off 18 months. I've got a feeling he might go chasing. He takes quite a bit of work but he has got plenty of class.
"He did it well at Wetherby on his last start, it was just unfortunate he came back with a touch of a leg injury.
"He has had plenty of time off. He looks bigger and stronger. It is whether we go down the hurdle route to see if he makes it into a Grade race hurdler or down the novice chase route.
"It may be a case of running him over hurdles first time as he can be gassy, but he is bred to jump fences. He is an exciting horse to go to war with if he stays sound."
"He is a really tough horse that loves soft ground. He finished third in his bumper then beat one of Gary Moore's impressively at Lingfield.
"He is a really good jumper. At home he can't get out of his own way but on a racetrack he comes alive. He jumped his hurdles so big and awkward, a fence will only help him.
"We will start him over two and a half, but we won't run him until there is proper soft ground."
"He did everything right last year, but we just ran out of time. I actually took him to Market Rasen in April/ May time but the ground scared me. It was just a bit too quick. I was going to run him again, but he was under the weather so I put him away.
"He is bigger and stronger than he was last year and will be running in a bumper towards the end of October. He jumps very well, but I would be very surprised if he was not competitive in a bumper."
FLY DU CHARMIL
"He was the first horse I ran for Max McNeil. He won a bumper at Newbury and Max had never had a winner there. He was very impressive and led from start to finish. He looked a proper horse that day. It was trainer error that I ran him 19 days later. He seemed OK at home. It was a race at Ascot that I thought was ideal, but he just boiled over and to be honest he never came back from that all season.
"We gave him a long break and ran him in a couple of hurdles at the end of the season, where we dropped him out to try to get him relaxed. When he gets a handicap mark we will see where he goes from there. He has grown over the summer, but we will take our time as he has been bought to go chasing. I would say handicaps are the route to go."
"She was very impressive on her debut at Bangor. She was quite neurotic last year. She use to worry a bit in the stable but she has grown up a lot now. I think she will run in a bumper at Aintree if all is well. I think she is good and I think at this stage compared with The Nipper and La Bague Au Roi she is not far off them. She is very straightforward in everything she does and walks around like she has a bit of class.
"She would need to win well to carry on down the bumper route if she doesn't she would then go hurdling.
"If she does win first time out then we could go to the Listed race at Huntingdon, then keep her for either Aintree or Punchestown at the end of the season."
"He has run once for me at Wetherby in a good race. He didn't run as well as I thought. I thought he would dot up, as his homework suggested he would take a lot of beating but he just went through the motions.
"He has come back a stronger horse and has been on the go a long time. I might just go straight over hurdles but he would not want the ground too deep.
"He is very professional and we will start him over two miles. I'm hoping he will make up to go to some of the festivals in the spring. He has shown me enough to suggest he will be one of my nicer novice hurdlers this season."
"He was out last year and he has so many issues. He has got so much talent. Hopefully now he is a year older he will be OK. He made a noise on his last run at Aintree and got a touch of a leg injury. He has had a lot of time of and has come back in looking good.
"He is still a maiden over hurdles. We want to get his head in front to give him a bit of confidence and go from there. If we can keep him sound he could be a big improver."
"He won his last point to point leading from start to finish very impressively. He is a horse that doesn't show a lot at home but he won like a good horse. He is not flashy at home and likes soft ground. He has done enough to like him and he jumps very well. I might use a bumper to give him a run before going hurdling."
MA DU FOU
"He won his first three last year. He won the Listed race at Huntingdon. Then we went to Aintree and kept jumping all the paths like he had never been broken. He ran no race at all. We put a line through, that then we ran him Sandown and he ran an absolute cracker to finish sixth.
"He will go novice chasing. We will start him off over two miles. He is a brilliant jumper and has done a bit schooling over fences already. He is a real athlete and pretty much goes in any ground. He is a smart horse. He has just taken a bit of time to grow up. "
"He could be one of the best novice chasers. He was impressive at Newbury first time out. We saved him for Cheltenham. To go in the Pertemps three gears quicker, he was OK for three-quarters of the race. I thought he would go on better ground but he hated it.
"He shows you nothing at home, apart from when he is schooling. He will be a stayer but I think we will start him over two and a half. He is a hell of a horse."
"He showed glimpses of what we bought him for. He was favourite at Cheltenham but unfortunately he was not experienced enough to take on horses like that, then he went to Aintree after that.
"I'm adamant that both races won't be lost on him. He has come in a better horse this season and his work is better. We want to be looking at these graduation chases to give him a bit of confidence and teach him a bit more.
"I was toying with going to the West Yorkshire Hurdle, but it could end up being a decent race. We are still schooling him but he has just been a late developer.
"I think to start with we want to set off in small fields. Something like the Sky Bet at Doncaster could be for him later in the season."
"He has loads of talent but has just taken time to come to hand. He won a novice hurdle at Market Rasen on his last start. He is big and raw and it has taken a long time for his feet to agree with his brain. He is a novice for all this year."
"She has run three times and been second every time. She just lacks a gear and is a bit gassy, she thinks she has loads of speed but hasn't.
"We were impressed with her at Chepstow on her final start as we didn't know if she would handle soft ground and she did. She will go hurdling and will want a trip. She is not a bad type and hopefully we can get some black type."
"He has never run for me. He has had three runs in points and won his last won. Jamie Codd rode him that day and recommended him to me. He is by Scorpion and is very straightforward. He does everything right. He will run in a bumper at the end of October then will go hurdling. He looks rock solid. It is a new syndicate involved with the horse and I don't think they will go far wrong with him"
"He is a full brother to Shantou Village. He is unraced and will be running in a bumper early November. He has loads of class. He was just not ready to run last year as he was a bit weak.
"He will run in a bumper then go hurdling after that. He is a horse that finds everything very easy. This lad is only a baby. I've seen Shantou Village in the flesh and he would be bigger than him. If he is half as good as him we would be happy. He looks the part, though."
"He won for us at Uttoxeter at the back end. We thought he would win his bumper which he did. He was still quite green. He looks a different horse now. He could be a fair tool and will start off in a hurdle over two and half miles. He will want better ground but slightly softer ground over two and a half won't inconvenience him."
"He has had two runs and won very nicely on his second one in soft ground at Ffos Las. He will want a trip and fences in time. He is growing up. He was like a big puppy but he is now becoming a much stronger horse. He will start in a maiden or novice hurdle over two and a half and will go from there."
"He was another good horse from two years ago. He only had one run last year, in the Betfair Hurdle. I shouldn't have run him. The ground was not soft enough as he needs bottomless ground.
"Last year he came back after that race with a problem in a hind leg. It needed a bit of time so we have given it to him. He is back and touch wood he seems as good as ever. The lad who rides him thinks he is bigger and stronger than he was then.
"I think we will run him in a hurdle first. We did school him over fences last year and he wasn't that good, but I believe it was probably because of that problem behind.
"If he doesn't take to fences then there are races like the Long Walk Hurdle on bottomless ground. Because of the way he goes in the ground I wouldn't be scared of going to France with him."
"He won his bumper very impressively at Plumpton. He was then second in his first hurdle, won his next one and was then fourth in his last one.
"He is quite an uptight horse but he has done very well over the summer. I think he could be a real improver on his second season over hurdles as he was quite anxious last year.
"He looks a lot stronger this year and could be quite exciting. He is definitely one to watch out for. We will start him at two but he will get two and a half and further down the line he will get three.
"The older he gets the better he will get. I'd like to think that he would be up to something at one of the big spring festivals. As long as we don't over-race him early he could be smart. He jumps particularly well and will be a chaser in time."
"He had a bit of a mishap of a season. He finished fourth in Grade Two on his first run of the season. Then he won nicely at Lingfield. He really stuck it out well. Things then didn't go right as he fell at Catterick and Carlisle. He will be aimed at long-distance chases."
"He won his bumper for me at Ffos Las and is owned by Lee Westwood, Darren Clarke and Chubby Chandler. He was a horse I could not wait to get on the track last year. He won very impressively. I would say we would go in another bumper. I think he will win with a penalty then he will go hurdling after that. He is only four so we've got time. He is a classy animal."