Wednesday 17 May 2017

Warren Greatrex: Hard Work Pays Off

Warren Greatrex
Warren Greatrex started his racing career as a teenager with David ‘The Duke’ Nicholson and worked for Bryan Smart and Oliver Sherwood, among others, before succeeding Carl Llewelyn as salaried trainer to owner Malcolm Denmark at Weathercock House, Upper Lambourn in 2009. Three years later, he rented nearby Uplands – once the base of legendary National Hunt trainer Fred Winter – from former trainer Charlie Egerton and moved in with a string of just over 20 horses. Greatrex said at the time, “It is a bit daunting and I know it's going to take a lot of hard work, but I’m not frightened of rolling my sleeves up.”

Greatrex saddled his first Grade 1 winner, Cole Harden, in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in 2015. Under a bold ride from Gavin Sheehan, the 6-year-old made every yard of the running and stayed on strongly to beat the favourite, Saphir Du Rheu, by 3¼ lengths, leaving his trainer fighting back tears. That season, Greatrex amassed over £500,000 in total prize money for the first time.

After a series of breathing operations, Cole Harden returned to the Cheltenham Festival in 2016, but could only finish fourth of 12, beaten 31 lengths, behind Thistlecrack in the Ryanair World Hurdle. Nevertheless, the following month Greatrex saddled his second Grade 1 winner, One Track Mind, in the Ladbrokes Champion Stayers Hurdle, at Punchestown. Interviewed during the 2015/16 season, Greatrex said, “I started with 10 horses. We have 75 now, so something has gone right.”

More recently, the stable star at Uplands has been La Bague Au Roi, the winner of 10 races for the yard including, most recently, the Mares’ Hurdle at Ascot in 2018. The Doctor Dino mare could only finish seventh of 16, beaten 16½ lengths, behind Let’s Dance in the Trull House Stud Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle on her only previous visit to the Cheltenham Festival in 2017. Nevertheless, Greatrex said of her, “She is more talented than Cole Harden. He won his races by being very tough and he would grind them into the ground. She has got a lot more class.” She reported runs in the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle or the Sun Bet Stayers’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in 2018, but Greatrex added, “Whichever race she runs in she will run very well.”
Greatrex has a number of potential Cheltenham Festival contenders, including Keeper Hill, who fell on his most recent outing at Musselburgh, but has reportedly schooled well since and is likely to contest the National Hunt Chase, rather than the RSA Chase.

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