Greatrex is already the winning-most trainer at Yorkshire’s three National Hunt tracks this season thanks to West Yorkshire Hurdle winner Cole Harden and Crabbie’s Grand National contender Dolatulo, the bargain buy who won Wetherby’s Rowland Meyrick Chase on Boxing Day in style.
The trainer will clearly be disappointed if his trio of runners, the mounts of Dougie Costello, return home from North Yorkshire empty-handed.
In racecard order, Greatrex will clearly be pleasantly surprised if Knight Bachelor wins the aptly-named Happy New Year Novices’ Hurdle – today’s opening contest. “He is probably a work in progress and just needs to learn to settle in his races,” the trainer told The Yorkshire Post.
Greatrex holds much higher hopes for Kaysersberg, who takes on four Yorkshire-trained horses in the feature novice chase.
The home quartet include Sue Smith’s well-regarded Straidnahanna, who will be bidding to give jockey Harry Haynes a 100th career winner in the UK.
However, Greatrex is confident that his horse, already a two-time Wetherby winner, can make amends for a fall at Doncaster on his most recent outing.
“He is a nice horse. I would like to think that he will be a league above the others,” said the handler. “The whole point is to go there and have a nice jumping round. It’s a good opportunity for him. We’ll get Catterick out of the way, but I might skip Cheltenham and save him for Aintree.”
As for Hand On Back in the concluding handicap hurdle, jumping will be the name of the game. “He was running well last time at Taunton when he fell at the second last. This should be a little easier.”
Meanwhile, Greatrex is bullish about the chances of stable standard-bearer Cole Harden, who takes on the resurgent 2012 Champion Hurdle winner Rock On Ruby in today’s Dornan Engineering Hurdle at Cheltenham.
Though the two-and-a-half mile trip is tailor-made for Harry Fry’s course specialist Rock On Ruby and perhaps too short for Cole Harden, who has been racing over longer distances under jockey Gavin Sheehan, Greatrex believes his pacesetting horse will make his rivals sweat.
“Win, lose or draw, they’ll know they’ve been in a race. They won’t hang about,” he added.
“Hopefully, 2015 will be as kind as the past 12 months have been.”
Today’s racecards: Page 23.