Greatrex keen to make up for Missed Approach

Aintree Grand National

Horses and riders (R) in the The Gaskells Handicap Hurdle race go past the main stage during the final day of the Grand National Festival horse racing meeting at Aintree Racecourse in Liverpool, northern England on April 14, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Jason ROBERTS @SCANPIX

Warren Greatrex admits this season has so far proved to be one of frustration for his yard, but the Lambourn trainer firmly believes redemption is coming this spring.

Greatrex has got his team ticking over nicely and he’s aiming to get Missed Approach fit and ready for a tilt at the Randox Health Grand National in April.

No time for panic

A year ago the Upper Lambourn trainer saw his string coming to the boil as the new year ticked around, enjoying a year-high strike-rate of 21 per cent during the month of January.

This season has so far proved to be one of frustration, with softer than ideal ground taking the blame in Greatrex’s eyes.

He has been forced to practice patience despite a healthy and fit string of horses at home, but that’s not something that concerns him greatly.

“It was frustrating to start so slowly, but the soft ground has not helped my string. They have been healthy but had just taken their time coming to hand and I will not over race my horses,” he said.

“However, I believe we could have a very good run through to the end of the season as the horses are all hitting form and we have some seriously nice horses to go to war with.”

Spring the key time

The flag-bearer for the Greatrex team in the last 12 months has been Grade 1-winning mare La Bague Au Roi.

She, too, has suffered her frustrations this season and is winless in three runs. Greatrex is hoping a return to the Dublin Racing Festival can spark her revival. She was a winner at the meeting in 2019 and is heading over for the Irish Gold Cup in February.

The trainer anticipates a strong showing from his horses during the key spring period for jumps racing.

“La Bague Au Roi has only just got her mojo back and will be a big player for us,” he added.

“We also have plenty of promising youngsters coming to hand. Of course I wish we had more winners, but with this strong team to go to war with in the spring I think we’ll have a memorable second half of the season.”

Missed Approach gets Aintree target

Missed Approach hasn’t been sighted since finishing sixth in Aintree’s Becher Chase in December of 2018.

Earlier that year he had landed the Kim Muir Challenge Cup at the Cheltenham Festival, a memorable afternoon for Team Greatrex.

He’s had just a dozen runs over fences and can lay claim to a runner-up finish in the 4m1f Edinburgh National at Musselburgh on his CV from the spring of 2018.

With that in mind, Greatrex anticipates that Missed Approach could be a lively contender for Grand National glory around Aintree.

Now 10, his trainer knows that Missed Approach is effectively in the ‘prime’ of his life as far as Grand National ambitions go.

He’s due to return to the racecourse in early February and will have Merseyside on his mind this spring.

“He’s a very good staying chaser but hasn’t been out for almost 14 months. He’s quite hard to get fit but he’s back [in work] and the Grand National is the aim,” Greatrex declared.

“He’s on a mark of 145, which I would hope will be enough to get in at Aintree. He’s ten now and you could argue he’s in his prime.”

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