Warren Greatrex column reflecting on wins for Encore Champs, Emitom and Keeper Hill

Theatre Territory in action at Cheltenham
Theatre Territory in action at Cheltenham

Warren Greatrex reflects on recent wins for Encore Champs, Emitom and Keeper Hill with the latter potentially throwing his hat into the ring for the Stayers' Hurdle.

Looking back…

Bailarico – 1st, Kempton, January 12

He won five on the Flat and then won the walkover. He had a spin at Leicester and got back on track with a good win at Kempton the other day. He does have a lot of ability and has been given a mark of 135 now so I will look at a few races coming up. I could possibly be tempted by a Grade 2, the River Don at Doncaster, although Newbury is an option on the 9th. That's a handicap and might be the more sensible approach but we'll see.

Star Of Lanka - 4th, Kempton, January 12

I was very happy with his run in the Lanzarote at Kempton on his first go in a big handicap, I thought he ran well. It will have done him the world of good. I’ll look at a Grade Two now, possibly at Haydock on February 16. He’s come out of Kempton well and he’s obviously improving. I’ve thrown him in at the deep end a bit but I like him. He's another who will appreciate getting back on some easy ground.

Keeper Hill – 1st, Warwick, January 12

The handicapper has put him up 5lb to 144 so that’s fair enough and it was great to get him back in the groove. He stepped up on his Cheltenham second which I thought he might. He's obviously now qualified for the Pertemps Final but he’ll also have a Stayers’ Hurdle entry. On February 2 we’ll look at the open handicap at Sandown. That will tell me a lot more as if he won that he’d be in the mix for the Stayers', and if not then we’ll still be okay for the Final. From February last year it was a nightmare so it’s great that he's rediscovered his form. He missed the last hurdle at Warwick and if not he’d have won by further so hopefully he can kick on again now.

Encore Champs – 1st, Kelso, January 13

He won nicely and I was surprised by the prices on the day to be honest as we'd beaten the favourite before at Wetherby. Conditions were not ideal on Sunday, it was very windy and there was a strong headwind. Richard (Johnson) said he still needs to grow and a mature. He missed two out but came back on the bridle and he's just one of those horses who knows how to win. I'm not sure where we'll go now but he’s still a work in progress. He's definitely not got it all together yet so that’s encouraging as when he does he could flourish, especially in a strongly-run race. He's a chaser in the making and his jumping is a real asset. Whether he is a Cheltenham horse this year, I don't think so. We will look to step him up in class, and there is a Grade Two race just before Cheltenham back at Kelso. That could be the one - and then after he could be an Aintree horse."

Groundunderrepair – 3rd, Kelso, January 13

Richard Johnson put it solely down to the ground. I thought we'd get away with it but it was just a shade on the quick side still. The weather is amazing for the time of year and ideally I'l like some rain so we can kick on with plenty of them as the horses remain in really good form. I'm not someone who administers boosters or anything (flu jabs) through the winter and if they're well and don't think it's too important. The horses haven't been over-raced this season so hopefully there's more to come.

Emitom – 1st, Lingfield, January 15

He’s come out of the race at Lingfield well and we'll look at the Ballymore at Cheltenham on Trials Day but also the Sidney Banks Memorial Novices' Hurdle at Huntingdon which is looking favourite at the moment. It's a race we've won with Ma Du Fou and Keeper Hill in recent years. The most important thing is that we keep getting him practice. I couldn’t go to the Cheltenham Festival on his next run, he needs more experience. Going a couple of gears quicker might just help him sharpen up, though. He's unbeaten and remains very exciting.

Top Rock Talula – 1st, Kempton, January 15

They went a really good gallop and it suited her. I thought she was the winner a long way out. She’ll get a mile six and maybe two miles in the future. That could open doors on the Flat but she’s not over big and is getting stronger and stronger. She might go over hurdles in the spring and summer time if things continue to go well for her but she'll stay on the level for now.


The week ahead…

Theatre Territory – 3.00 Wincanton, Thursday

She didn’t do a lot last week in truth (second in two-runner race at Doncaster) so we've declared her again. We'll be putting a visor on her as well which might just help out. It's another small field and the owners are still mad keen to get her up in the weights with Aintree in mind in the spring and she needs to win races. It's three mile one and it's a mares’ only race. She’s top rated but it's quite tight so we hope for the best.

Minella Examiner – Chepstow, Friday

He disappointed a little bit at Ffos Las as he does show ability on the gallops. He wasn't perfect after that but seems fine now and just wants a bit of rain. He's quite a big horse and will probably need some soft to be seen at his best.

Talktomenow – Chepstow, Friday

He's a possible this week. He was disappointing at Warwick last time but ran nowhere near his level. He just tweaked his back during the race but we’ve had that sorted with a spot of physio. I'd like him to step up now. He jumped well last time but just did something to his back and can hopefully show a lot more now he's right.

Roccowithlove – Chepstow, Friday

We’ll have a look here or Leicester next week. He's had one run in a bumper but taken a bit of time for the penny to drop.

Master Card – Chepstow, Friday

He nearly won at Hereford and he’s come on since then. I think it'll be his sort of track and the ground should be okay for him.

Jammin Masters – Chepstow, Friday

He ran okay at Newcastle, he’s just a different horse when the ground is soft. Daryl (Jacob) said on softer ground he'd maybe have beaten the winner but we move on and it's good that he's getting more experience over fences. There are definitely races to be won with him on deep ground.

Petticoat Tails – Ascot, Saturday

She will run and clearly has a bit to find but to be honest I think she’ll step up a lot for the move up to three miles. She’s been solid and won’t mind the ground. Ascot is a track she likes and the trip will help. We won this race with La Bague Au Roi last year and while Petticoat Tails isn't at that level, she’s under the radar and possibly underestimated.

Western Ryder – Haydock, Saturday

He seems in good nick. We’ll have a go here and he's in the Betfair Hurdle too at Newbury at the start of February. This race will presumably cut up and he won’t mind the ground. He’s rated 150 now and we get 6lb off Brain Power so they’re all of a muchness in a sense. We've got to turn the Cheltenham form around with the favourite but we’re in the mix and if things click then he'll be involved. He’s never been to Haydock but he travels well and can’t see the track being an issue at all.

Western Ryder (right) impresses at Cheltenham
Western Ryder (right): 9/2 with Sky Bet for Haydock this weekend

Dicosimo – Haydock, Saturday

He's a possible runner in the two mile handicap chase and needs a bit of improvement on what he's been showing of late.

Miss Honey Ryder – Taunton, Saturday

She's had a bit of a break and ran very well first time out this season. She’s come on and she’ll run here. Hopefully she can go one better as I hold her in quite high regard.

Young Lieutenant – Exeter, Sunday

He’s in the bumper and the hurdle on the same card and we’ll see how he is.

Printing Dollars – Exeter, Sunday

She's finished second twice and has probably bumped into a couple of nice mares in truth. We’re stepping her up in trip and that will help on everything we've seen so far. I won't go as far as to say I'd be disappointed if she's beaten but she’ll go well.


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