Newcastle victor Reine set for step up in class

Warren Greatrex has spring targets in mind for the well-related Ici La Reine following her second bumper win at Newcastle on Saturday.

The filly is out of a half-sister to Greatrex’s hugely popular Grade One winner La Bague Au Roi, with the two mares both owned by Mrs Julien Turner and Andrew Merriam.

On debut Ici La Reine made light work of a Newcastle mares’ bumper, defeating eight rivals when winning by an easy six and a half lengths.

The victory earnt her a penalty when returning to the same course on Saturday for a similar contest, but the bay was able to overcome that hinderance and a less than ideal passage through the race to prevail by a neck.

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“It was nice to win again. It was a bit of a muddling race and she did a lot wrong, but thankfully the result went the right way,” said Greatrex.

“It was a typical second run, she was a bit lit up before in the paddock and then in the race she had a bit of cover but unfortunately that horse went wrong.

“She then had a bit too much daylight and was a bit keen and it ended up in a sprint.

“She would be a very strong stayer, I like horses that keep going and she did her best work at the end.”

The back-to-back successes have brought into focus mares’ bumper contests at Aintree and Cheltenham in April, where Greatrex is hopeful a higher calibre of race will bring about more improvement.

He said: “With her winning two, I think she’s potentially better than we’ve seen. We’ll look at Aintree and if not Aintree, there is a Cheltenham bumper in April as well.

“I think she’ll be better in a better race where they go a better gallop. She shows all the signs that she’s got a bright future.”

Ici Le Reine is out of Reine Angevine, whose dam Alliance Royale also produced Greatrex’s much-loved mare La Bague Au Roi – winner of 14 contests including two Grade Ones.

“She has a lot of the same traits as La Bague Au Roi and if she’s half as good as her, I’ll be very happy,” he said.

“I think I’ve had four horses from the owners over the years and we’ve trained them over 20 winners. It’s been good to find another one and fingers crossed she can be a really good one at that.”

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