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Cheltenham: Cole Harden puts Warren Greatrex on top of the world

By Frank Brownlow

It may have been Ulster great Tony McCoy's day courtesy of victory on Uxizandre in the Ryanair Chase, but a little bit of the limelight was reserved for an emotional Warren Greatrex.

The trainer was ecstatic - and tearful - as stable star Cole Harden produced a glorious front-running display under Gavin Sheehan to clinch victory in the featured Ladbrokes World Hurdle.

Lambourn-based Greatrex, whose apprenticeship has included spells with legendary trainers David 'Duke' Nicholson and Josh Gifford, leapt for joy in the parade ring.

"I'd like to think I'm quite a cool customer, but it's all gone wrong and it turns out I'm (crying) like a girl! The Duke would have been kicking me!" he smiled.

"We've just won the World Hurdle. I can't believe it. The (horse's) wind operation's worked hasn't it?

"I'm never short of words, but I'm shocked."

"We've just won a Grade One and beat the best, so we're here, aren't we?

"If you're going to break your duck (at Cheltenham), you may as well do it in a big one.

"I said I thought he had a serious chance. He's done what I thought he could do and he's won well.

"When he came back in after the summer I was having trouble with his wind. I was struggling to get him up the gallops.

"I sent him away to be tested, but nothing came back and he then went and won at Wetherby, so what do you do but carry on?

"After that the soft ground came and I was struggling and he wasn't right in the Cleeve (Hurdle). I knew we had to do something with him."

Reflecting on the big race, Greatrex added: "I was never really confident, but I thought going to two out they needed to start getting a shimmy on if they were going to get him and coming to the last I was thinking 'we're in here'.

"The ground is key and you need the horse to be right, but what a horse.

"I hope there'll be plenty more to come, but your first Festival winner is everything.

"I can't tell you how much belief I have in Cole Harden. He's a proper, hard, come-and-get-me horse with the heart of a lion."

The trainer reserved special praise for Sheehan, adding: "He's had a tough week and he's trying to compete with the big boys as well.

"It's his first winner and he only had his first ride here last year. Today's showed the talent he's got and the belief I have in him.

"I told him to go out there and not leave anything out there and that we'd take them wherever they need to go to get past us.

"I told Gavin 'this horse is the real deal' and we've just beat the best."

Asked if Cole Harden will run again this season, Greatrex said: "I don't know. He might need a rest - I know I do!

"I think he'll keep on improving and would make a great chaser. Can you imagine him doing that over fences?

"But sometimes you just have to stay at what you're good at, so we'll see.

"It's party time! We know how to party in Lambourn."

Jockey Sheehan said: "It's very, very special. His jumping was brilliant. When I saw the line, it meant everything."

That man McCoy was fourth on At Fishers Cross, just behind Saphir Du Rheu and Zarkandar, second and third respectively.

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