Warren Greatrex sets sights on Irish Gold Cup with La Bague Au Roi

Wed 15 Jan 2020

Warren Greatrex remains keen on sending La Bague Au Roi back to Leopardstown for the Paddy Power Irish Gold Cup.

The nine-year-old mare won the Flogas Novice Chase at the Dublin Racing Festival last season and is pencilled in for a return to the showpiece fixture for the 250,000 euros feature on February 2.

La Bague Au Roi has failed to strike since securing top-level honours a year ago, having been pulled up on her seasonal return in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby before finishing third in the Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon and in a mares’ event at Doncaster.

She has options on home soil, with the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham on Saturday week and next month’s Betfair Denman Chase at Newbury in the mix, but the Lambourn handler favours another trip across the Irish Sea, provided conditions at Leopardstown are suitable.

Watch how La Bague Au Roi landed a Grade One in Ireland last year

Greatrex said: “We will look at the Cotswold Chase next weekend, but I think that would be doubtful because of the ground. She is already entered at Leopardstown and is likely to be entered in the Denman.

“I’d say Leopardstown would be the preference if the ground remained what it was like there over Christmas – the better the ground, the bigger her chance.”

Greatrex believes a return to three miles is also key in helping La Bague Au Roi revive her fortunes having been campaigned over shorter on her last two starts.

He added: “I think she definitely needs to go back over three miles now. I’m just mindful she doesn’t want to be running in a bog.

“We know she handles the track at Leopardstown really well, having won round there last year.”

Former Kim Muir winner Missed Approach could take his first step towards a potential tilt at the Randox Health Grand National by making his return from injury at Exeter on February 9.

Watch how Missed Approach fared in the Becher Chase in December

“We are probably looking towards running Missed Approach in a veterans’ chase at Exeter next month, which is two days before the weights for the Grand National come out,” Greatrex added.

“We’ve done as much as we can with him, but he does tend to need his first run. We’ve taken him for a racecourse gallop and I’d like to give him another in the next week to 10 days.

“He is showing all his old enthusiasm, but it has been a long road back. The Grand National is the big target.”

Portrush Ted could be given the chance to book his ticket to the Cheltenham Festival in a Pertemps qualifier on his next start.

The 2018 Aintree Bumper winner made a triumphant return from a 519-day absence at Ayr earlier this month.

Portrush Ted was successful at Ayr after a lengthy absence last time out

Greatrex said: “The plan is to go to Exeter, or failing that go to Haydock for one the following weekend.

“He has gone up 7lb for his win at Ayr, so he will get in the Pertemps Final – we just need to get him qualified now.

“Just keeping him sound is key, as he has never been the easiest to train. He seems to have come out of Ayr really well.”

Grade Two options at Cheltenham, Haydock and Fontwell are under consideration for Emitom, who failed to beat a rival home on his belated return in last month’s Relkeel Hurdle at Cheltenham.

Emitom disappointed in the Relkeel Hurdle on New Year's Day

Greatrex said: “It has been a slow start to the season for Emitom and we were probably asking a bit too much in the International first time back, where he fluffed his lines.

“We will see what the entries look like in the Cleeve at Cheltenham next weekend. If we don’t go there, the Rendlesham is the next target, while I’m still debating if we could just wait for the National Spirit at Fontwell.

“He is likely to miss the Cheltenham Festival and head back to Aintree in the spring for the three-mile Grade One there.”

Audacity will bid follow up his Listed victory in a bumper at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day by striking at the same level at Newbury on February 8.

Watch how Audacity scored at Cheltenham on New Year's Day

“All being well, Audacity will go to Newbury next. He has done his job this season, having already won a Listed race, and to be fair, the owners can have a bit of fun now,” said the trainer.

“I don’t think we will look at Cheltenham with him, but possibly Aintree and Punchestown as the owners like going to Punchestown.”

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