Greatrex hopes Irish eyes smile on Cole Harden

Cole Harden came second in the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury on Saturday
Cole Harden came second in the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury on Saturday
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Warren Greatrex is planning an Irish raid with Cole Harden after his Long Distance Hurdle heroics.

The five-year-old son of Westerner got the better of previously unbeaten odds-on favourite More Of That at Newbury on Saturday.

However, Alan King’s Medinas surprised them both to win in the Grade 2 battle – with Cole Harden seven lengths adrift in second.

Greatrex admitted he was disappointed not to have landed the three-mile contest in Berkshire.

But the Upper Lambourn trainer insisted he was delighted with the performance of his ace in the hands of jockey Gavin Sheehan.

Cole Harden, who claimed maiden hurdle glory at Fontwell last November, beat Medinas in the Grade West Yorkshire Hurdle at Wetherby on his previous start.

But he had to give his rival, ridden by Richard Johnson, 8lb this time around and it proved decisive.

The performance further underlined Cole Harden’s talent, though, and next stop is Leopardstown for the Squared Financial Christmas Hurdle on December 28.

Greatrex said: ‘Initially you are disappointed because you have it in your head you have one to beat and you beat that one and then get done by something else.

‘I thought he had it won three out but then Richard Johnson loomed up.

‘He’s still improving. I’d say that was a step up on the Wetherby run and we had to give the winner 8lb.

‘He’ll now go to Leopardstown over Christmas, all being well.

‘He’s come out of the race great and he’s better left-handed, so that is the next obvious option.

‘We’ll take him over there and hopefully he can keep progressing.

‘Being a five-year-old, he has every chance of getting better and better and will hopefully keep improving so we can look at Cheltenham in March.

‘He has every right to keep improving and he could be possibly better on better ground.’

Cole Harden is now rated 158 over hurdles.

Elsewhere, Chris Pea Green got off the mark over fences with victory in the Autumn Gala Novices’ Chase at Plumpton on Monday.

Having finished second on each of his opening three starts, the five-year-old – who is trained in West Sussex by Gary Moore – did the business at 1/6.

His stable-mate Oh So Fruity, who was second on debut at Fontwell last month, was third in a strong bumper on the same card.