Warren Greatrex fires Cole Harden warning ahead of Cheltenham
Horse will be ready to retain Ladbrokes World Hurdle crown at Festival, says trainer
Cole Harden ridden by Gavin Sheehan clears the last fence on the way to winning the Ladbrokes World Hurdle at Cheltenham last year. Photograph: Alex Livesey/Getty Images
The seven-year-old has met with defeat in both his starts this season, but the Upper Lambourn handler feels his stable star will be at the peak of his powers in his bid to land back-to-back victories in the Grade One, for which he is as big as 10/1, on March 17.
“With him only having two runs he will be going there a much fresher horse and it’s all I’ve been training him for,” said Greatrex.
“If he did like soft ground we would be going there as a 6/4 shot, but as I’ve said all along, he really doesn’t like the soft ground.
Sun on his back
Third on his seasonal return in the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury in November, Cole Harden filled the same spot behind Camping Ground on his most recent outing in the Relkeel Hurdle at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day.
“Cole Harden has come out of the race well and he was not excessively tired. He came back fresh and has cantered,” said Greatrex. “He seems to be all good and he won’t run now until Cheltenham.
“I now have nine-and-a-half weeks to get him spot-on, whereas those horses that run in the Cleeve Hurdle will have had a hard race and only have six weeks to get ready.”
Prince Of Scars is one of those that could run in the Cleeve at Cheltenham after his victory in the Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown.
Gordon Elliott’s improving six-year-old entered the picture for the World Hurdle after he defeated fellow Gigginstown runner Alpha Des Obeaux by four lengths to claim his third success on the spin.
Prince Of Scars will now run in either the Cleeve at the end of the month or stay closer to home for the Galmoy Hurdle.
“Prince of Scars will be entered for the Galmoy Hurdle at Gowran Park and for the Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham,” Elliott told his Boylesports blog. “Wherever the ground is softest he will probably go – all being well, it will be Cheltenham, but if the ground is too good he mightn’t go.”
The latest Willie Mullins potential superstar could get the chance to further enhance his reputation as Min is the star name among nine entries for the skybet.com Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle at Punchestown on Saturday.
Having arrived from France with a big reputation, he was already one of the favourites for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle before a startling 14-length victory at Punchestown on his debut for Mullins.
That saw him harden to around 3/1 favourite for the Festival opener and for those punters who like trends, they will be pleased that the last two winners of the Punchestown Grade Two, stablemates Vautour and Douvan, both claimed this race before Cheltenham glory.
Mullins has also entered Thomas Hobson. Elliott has the promising Tombstone, Westend Star and Ball D’Arc engaged.
Attribution, Tongie and Gars Bar Dine complete the list.