WARREN Greatrex has confirmed that Ladbrokes World Hurdle hero Cole Harden will miss his intended comeback at Wetherby on Saturday week so his champion can concentrate on bigger targets later in the season.
Cole Harden won last year’s bet365 Hurdle at the West Yorkshire track – the chief supporting race to the Charlie Hall Chase – at the outset of a campaign which culminated with Grade One success at the Cheltenham Festival.
A first success at racing’s top table for both Greatrex and jockey Gavin Sheehan, the trainer does not want his stable star – a renowned front-runner – to over-exert himself in the first half of the season following further treatment over the summer to aid his breathing.
Newbury’s Long Distance Hurdle on November 28, a race synonymous with the great Big Buck’s, is Cole Harden’s new target.
After six starts last season, the horse could race just four times this year with the primary targets being the World Hurdle defence and a tilt at Aintree’s Grade One hurdle in which the gelding was a gutsy second to Whisper on Crabbie’s Grand National day.
“He’s back on song, and I’m really happy with him, but I will be a week or two short,” Greatrex said. “Rather than rush him, we would rather bide our time and wait for Newbury.
“He gives himself such a hard time that I don’t want him to lose his World Hurdle crown so early in the season. He has such a big heart, but you can only go to the well so many times.
“You keep giving a horse a hard race and suddenly they don’t want to do it any more. I just want to keep a lid on it for the longevity of the horse.”
Though Wetherby was bracing itself for Cole Harden’s absence, Cue Card – a multiple Grade One winner – is set to be a surprise addition to a Charlie Hall Chase field for Colin and Joe Tizzard.
Bookmakers are reporting sustained support for champion trainer John Gosden’s Foundation ahead of Saturday’s Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster – the final Group One race of the 2015 Flat season.
Owned by a Highclere Thoroughbred Racing syndicate whose members include Sir Alex Ferguson, the two-year-old is unbeaten from three starts. Frankie Dettori, racing’s renaissance man thanks to his exploits with horse of the year Golden Horn, has been booked for the ride.
Donjuan Triumphant will aim to end his season on a Group One high in the Criterium International at Saint-Cloud on November 1.
Malton Richard Fahey’s juvenile became Dream Ahead’s first Group Two winner as a sire when he ran away with the Criterium de Maisons-Laffitte last week, earning a crack at the highest level. Nick Bradley, representing owners Middleham Park Racing, said: “All being well, he’ll go back to France and he should take all the beating. The Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot would look an aim next year.”