Greatrex has Stayers’ in mind for Keeper Hill

Festival plans will hinge on next run

  • Wednesday 16 January
  • News
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Warren Greatrex is considering a return to Grade One company for Keeper Hill after giving him an entry in the Sun Racing Stayers’ Hurdle.

The Lambourn handler will decide which Cheltenham Festival route to take with the eight-year-old after his next run – which may be in the Grade Three Heroes Handicap Hurdle at Sandown on February 2.

Keeper Hill, whose promising chasing career faded with three successive non-completions at the end of last season, has returned to hurdles this term and won a Pertemps qualifier at Warwick on Saturday.

Greatrex said: “He has got a Stayers’ Hurdle entry, but he may well head to Sandown on February 2 for a £100,000 race there first – and that will tell us a lot more.

“If he went and won that off 144 he would be around the area that he would be competitive in a Stayers’ Hurdle. If he didn’t, he is qualified for the Pertemps -and we could look at that.

“There is every chance he could improve again from Saturday, and he definitely seems to be back on track – so I hope it is onwards and upwards.”

Keeper Hill did win two novice chases, but Greatrex added: “He didn’t have a great time last season.

“He had a fall at Musselburgh, then he fell at Cheltenham and pulled up at Ayr, and we had to give him a back operation during the summer.

“He ran such a good race at Cheltenham (on his second run back over hurdles last month), and I was chuffed to bits.

“He has obviously got confidence from that and won with authority at Warwick – and I still think there is more in the tank.”

A switch back to hurdles is also possible for stablemate Mulcahys Hill, who has recently undergone a wind operation and has also been given a Stayers’ entry.

Greatrex said: “That’s just a back-up really, because I’d rather stay down the novice-chase route. We do know he wants soft ground, and if the ground stays like it is we have that as an option.

“Chasing is more the plan. But I’ve not looked at any races for him yet, because I’m not thinking of running him until the ground is right.

“He seems in good form, and we’ve had to do some tinkering with his wind -which I think has helped him a lot – so I’m looking forward to getting him out again.”

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