Emitom has ‘mojo back’ for Rendlesham defence

Warren Greatrex is confident Emitom has got his “mojo” back in time to defend his title as he returns to the smaller obstacles in the William Hill Rendlesham Hurdle at Haydock.

The seven-year-old was fourth in the Stayers’ Hurdle to Lisnagar Oscar in March, following his victory in this race a month earlier, and Greatrex had hoped he would take high rank among the novice chasers this season.

However, defeats at Uttoxeter and Ffos Las forced a rethink. With Emitom having had a wind operation as well, the Upper Lamourn trainer is happy to retain his novice status for another season – should he fail to win the Stayers’ Hurdle.

“We are reverting back to hurdles (on Saturday) following a spell chasing. He has had his wind done and he is working very well,” said Greatrex.

“He seems to have his mojo back and seems in great nick. The chase races were good, and he jumped well, but he was a bit lacklustre – and whether his wind was just affecting him, I’m not sure.

“We will go to Haydock this week and see what happens. But he seems in good form, and his work is as good as ever.

“If he was to go on and win a Stayers’ Hurdle then we probably wouldn’t go back over fences, but if he didn’t win that we probably would look at going back over fences with him.”

Stayers’ Hurdle winner Lisnagar Oscar, Olly Murphy’s Itchy Feet and Thomas Darby and Nicky Henderson’s On The Blind Side are all in the reckoning at Haydock – to ensure it will be far from an easy task for Emitom.

Portrush Ted has option of Gowran trip for Galmoy Hurdle

Warren Greatrex is considering a trip to Ireland with Portrush Ted, for a tilt at the Galmoy Hurdle.

The Grade Two prize at Gowran Park next month has emerged as a potential option for the talented eight-year-old, who is already a winner at the same level having claimed the Aintree bumper in 2018.

After falling on his final start last season, Portrush Ted – who holds an entry in the Grade One Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot on Saturday week – took his record to three wins from four starts over hurdles with a triumphant return to action in a Pertemps qualifier at Sandown.

Greatrex said: “I feel the Long Walk at Ascot will come too soon for him as he put a lot of effort into Friday.

“The Galmoy at Gowran Park has been mentioned and that could be a possible option. Ground conditions are really important to this horse and he must have it really soft.

“The race would be a proper test and the track would suit him. The main thing with him though is keeping him in one piece.”

Although Greatrex expected Portrush Ted to run well on his return, he believes it was his determined attitude that managed to secure the victory.

He added: “I thought he was a little bit short on Friday and that he would come on for it, as he hadn’t run since February. He will be better next time.

“His form suggested he would have a say, as when he gets round he wins. You have to compliment him on how tough he is.

“Through all the issues he has had, he still comes out and wants to win and credit goes to the team and the hard work they have put in.”

Emitom will revert back to hurdles following a recent wind operation
Emitom will revert back to hurdles following a recent wind operation (David Davies/PA)

The Lambourn handler is leaning towards giving Emitom the chance to defend his Grade Two Rendlesham Hurdle crown at Haydock on his return from a recent wind operation, after deciding to put his chasing career on hold.

He said: “Emitom has had a wind op and he won’t be out until the end of January at the earliest.

“He was fourth in the Stayers’ Hurdle last season and now we have sorted his wind he hasn’t got much to find to be in the mix in those Grade One staying hurdle races.

“He could go for the Cleeve at Cheltenham or the Rendlesham. I’d probably favour the Rendlesham as it is likely to be not quite as competitive and he has good course and distance form there.”

Emitom could return to chasing in the future, but much will depend on how he fares back over hurdles, according to Greatrex.

He said: “His jumping over fences was never an issue as he jumped brilliantly at Uttoxeter and although he was well beaten at Ffos Las he still jumped well.

“He has that bit of experience over fences now so he could go back chasing as a second-season novice.

“We will make a decision whether he goes back chasing or stays over hurdles depending on how he does back over hurdles.”

Keeper Hill is being lined up for a return to the Grade Two Silviniaco Conti Chase at Kempton (David Davies/PA)
Keeper Hill is being lined up for a return to the Grade Two Silviniaco Conti Chase at Kempton (David Davies/PA)

Keeper Hill could bid to get his career back on track by attempting to go one better than 12 months ago in the Grade Two Silviniaco Conti Chase at Kempton.

The nine-year-old was last of five in the Many Clouds Chase at Aintree on Saturday.

Greatrex said: “I think the plan is to head back to the Silviniaco Conti Chase at Kempton, though come January he will also qualify for veterans’ races as he turns 10.

“He hated the ground at Aintree, but he still picked up a bit more prize-money for his owners.”

La Bague Au Roi may head to Ladbrokes Trophy

Warren Greatrex is keen to let La Bague Au Roi take her chance in this month’s Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury, provided the ground is suitable.

The Lambourn trainer believes the prestigious three-and-a-quarter-mile prize on November 28 is the ideal test for his dual Grade One winner, who is unbeaten in three starts at the Berkshire track.

La Bague Au Roi finished fifth on her first outing since undergoing wind surgery in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby last month, after which she was dropped 2lb.

Greatrex said: “The ground is key to her. If it comes up like it was at the track on Thursday or is good to soft we would definitely have a go – if it doesn’t we will have to think again.

“I was chuffed to bits with her run at Wetherby. She just didn’t travel as well as she can do on better ground, but I thought she ran a respectable race.

“She is three from three (at Newbury) – and she will stay the trip.”

La Bague Au Roi could be joined at Newbury by Stayers’ Hurdle fourth Emitom, with Greatrex considering the Grade Two Ladbrokes John Francome Novices’ Chase.

Having been denied a winning debut over fences by Hurricane Harvey at Uttoxeter, the seven-year-old disappointed on his most recent start at Ffos Las.

Greatrex said: “We’ve freshened Emitom up since Ffos Las and we might look at the John Francome at Newbury, but there are a couple of other options around that time.

“He ran flat at Ffos Las, but it was only two weeks after Uttoxeter. He has now had two experiences over fences, and the thing that has pleased me most is his jumping. There is a lot more to come from him.”

Keeper Hill, right, will return to Haydock for a tilt at the Betfair Chase (Anthony Devlin/PA)
Keeper Hill will return to Haydock for a tilt at the Betfair Chase (Anthony Devlin/PA)

Finishing one place ahead of La Bague Au Roi at Wetherby was stablemate Keeper Hill, who will head to the Betfair Chase at Haydock on Saturday week.

Greatrex said: “Keeper Hill will go to the Betfair Chase. We know on ratings he is not going to be winning it, but he loves small fields and won a graduation race on the card last year.

“He ran a blinder at Wetherby, and I thought he would get tired in that ground because he would appreciate it a bit better.

“He has come out of Wetherby well, and we know flat tracks suit him well.”

Emitom ready to switch to fences

Grade Two-winning hurdler Emitom is being readied to make his debut over fences at Uttoxeter next month – provided conditions are suitable.

Trainer Warren Greatrex has earmarked the Free Tips Daily on Beginners’ Steeple Chase, over two and a half miles,  at the Staffordshire track on October 4 as a first port of call for the six-year-old.

After landing the Rendlesham Hurdle at Haydock on his penultimate start, Emitom finished a respectable fourth on his return to Grade One company on his final outing of the season in the Stayers’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

Greatrex said: “It could be argued he had unfinished business over hurdles, because I don’t think he was at his best at Cheltenham but he still managed to finish fourth.

“Next year he will be seven going on eight, and I know he will be a better chaser, so we decided the best thing to do was to go straight over fences with him this season.

“Physically he has done so well over the summer, while his work has been very good, and he is now reaching his full maturity

“The plan if all goes well would be to run him at Uttoxeter on October 4 over two and a half miles, provided they have enough rain, and see how we go from there.”

Despite Emitom not being the most fluent over hurdles, Greatrex expects the switch to fences to bring out the best in his jumping.

He added: “He has always schooled fences at home better, for whatever reason. He has had a few schools recently and he has jumped very well.

“The biggest thing over hurdles was his concentration, and fences just give him something to look at – which I think helps him.

“He has improved a lot and he is hugely exciting.”

Bob Mahler will have his campaign mapped out around making an appearance in the Randox Health Grand National at Aintree (Simon Cooper/PA Images)
Bob Mahler will have his campaign geared towards the Randox Health Grand National at Aintree (Simon Cooper/PA Images)

An outing in next year’s Randox Health Grand National is the long-term aim for Bob Mahler, who was last seen finishing third at the Festival in the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup.

Greatrex said: “The Grand National is the main aim for Bob Mahler, because he is at the age where he is fully developed now.

“I’ve had two horses run in the race before, and he looks the ideal type for it as he travels well and stays forever.

“He has done very well over the summer, and the first target will probably be the first Cheltenham meeting in October, then possibly the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury.”

Keeper Hill, right, has the bet365 Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby lined up as an early target (Anthony Devlin/PA Images)
Keeper Hill (right) has the bet365 Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby lined up as an early target (Anthony Devlin/PA Images)

Keeper Hill is likely to return in the Grade Two bet365 Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby on October 31, after a trip to America to contest the Grand National Hurdle at Far Hills was ruled out.

Greatrex added: “The plan was to go for the American Grand National, because we thought that was made for him, but we’ve had to think again.

“He is not one for those big handicaps and he likes small fields on better ground. He won at Haydock last year, then gave Frodon a fright at Kempton in a Grade Two.

“I think something like the Charlie Hall could be a good place to start his season off. He has come in looking great and has been a good stalwart for the yard.”