World Hurdle winner Cole Harden may be forced to bypass Wetherby appearance

WARREN GREATREX has warned Ladbrokes World Hurdle winner Cole Harden may be forced to sidestep his intended reappearance in the bet365 Hurdle at Wetherby.

Jockey Gavin Sheehan (right) celebrates winning the Ladbrokes World Hurdle with Cole Harden alongside trainer Warren Greatrex (left), on at Cheltenham Racecourse.

The Lambourn handler feels time may be against him in getting the six-year-old ready for the Grade Two contest he captured 12 months ago.

Should the son of Westerner miss the three-mile-one-furlong event, better known as the West Yorkshire Hurdle, on October 31, he could instead be re-routed to the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury the following month.

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Greatrex said: “We have just had a look at his wind again and tinkered with a few things two weeks ago. His first run was going to be at Wetherby but whether we run out of time to go there, I don’t know.

“If it’s not Wetherby it will probably be Newbury, and if it’s not Newbury and the ground is really bad, we might go over to Ireland at Christmas just as something different.”

One thing Greatrex is keen to do this season is keep his stable star’s appearances to a minimum in the build up to the Cheltenham Festival in order to give him the best chance of a maintaining his World Hurdle crown.

Greatrex said: “I am conscious that I don’t want to run him as many times this year. He had six runs last year. With the way he races, you can’t go to the well too often.

“He is only six and you want him to last and (if) you keep doing what he does six times a year, you soon don’t have anything left.

“I’d quite like to leave him and go to Cheltenham fresh on better ground. I want to keep him away from really bad ground as that doesn’t help his wind.

“It is just a matter of us making sure we have him in the best possible condition we can for each race he runs in.

“He is definitely stronger this year and hopefully he can go and do the business again in March.”

There’s every likelihood that this will be Cole Harden’s last season over hurdles; regular jockey Gavin Sheehan believes the horse could develop into a top-class steeplechaser.

“Gavin can’t wait for him to go chasing and we’ve popped him over a fences at home but it’s scary to watch as he is so exuberant,” added greatrex.

“He’s a real ball of energy in everything that he does at home, he’s like a tank, so we can’t do a lot of schooling with him because the more he does the braver he gets, which isn’t easy to watch. He does jump well though and we will be thinking about fences next season

“.I don’t think his World Hurdle success was a fluke and I believe he’s the one they have to beat back at Cheltenham in March, providing I can get him there in the same form.”