Emitom will try to emulate former stablemate Cole Harden by treading a familiar path on the way to the Sun Racing Stayers’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
Trainer Warren Greatex has earmarked the Grade Two bet365 Hurdle at Wetherby, a race Cole Harden claimed en route to his 2015 World Hurdle triumph, as a possible starting point for the talented five-year-old.
Winning his first four starts over hurdles, Emitom suffered his only defeat when finding Champ too strong on his Grade One debut Aintree in April.
Greatrex said: “All being well he will start off in the West Yorkshire Hurdle.
“If he doesn’t make that there are other options. He is off a mark of 147 so there is a possibility of the £100,000 race at Haydock.
“I think the key to him is he is still a young horse and he wants two runs before Christmas. We are all dreaming of him being a Stayers’ Hurdle horse, but he has got to step up.
“We’ve schooled him once already and he has jumped great, but more importantly he has got bigger and stronger and he has got a great mentality for these races.”
Grade Two bumper winner Portrush Ted was forced to miss the bulk of last season through injury, but Greatrex hopes he can make up for lost time after reporting him to be back on track.
Greatex said: “Portrush Ted won’t be out until about December, but he is back in and looks really well. We’ve done a couple of scans to check we are on the right lines.
“Physically he looks amazing and he looks much stronger than when he won the Grade Two bumper at Aintree, so hopefully the time has done him good.
“He is in a tricky situation as he is not a novice but wouldn’t be mature enough to run in any big hurdle, so we would probably look at something like a 0-130 handicap.”
Having rattled the woodwork in a number of graded races over hurdles last season, Western Ryder will have his attention switched to fences this campaign in a bid to get his career back on track.
Greatrex added: “We schooled him the back-end of last season over fences and he jumped well. Last season was a bit frustrating as he hit the crossbar and post.
“He was unlucky in the Greatwood and when he had his chance in a Grade Two he underperformed. We will start low key and pick our way from there.
“It will do his confidence the world of good having run in these big races to go in a four or five-runner novice chase and get his head in front.”
Encore Champs may not have reached the same heights as Western Ryder over hurdles, but Greatrex is confident he is one to keep close eye on over fences.
He said: “He won some nice races, he just petered out towards the end of the season, but novices can do that. He has come in looking great and he is a fabulous jumper.
“If there is as much improvement as I think there could be I’d like to think he can step up on his hurdle mark of 127 over fences.”