Keeper Hill takes Sidney Banks for Westerner

The Warren Greateex-trained Keeper Hill (6g Westerner-You Take Care, by Definite Article) looks set for the G1 Neptune Investment Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham after winning the Listed Sidney Banks Memorial Hurdle at Huntingdon on Thursday.

The Westerner five-year-old showed signs of greenness in a competitive renewal of the extended 2m 3f event but demonstrated great resilience at the finish to beat favourite Messire Des Obeaux.

Bred by Sharon Ryan, Keeper Hill (pictured with owner Max McNeill and jockey Gavin Sheehan) was bought by connections for £115,000 after winning a bumper on his debut for Ronnie O’Leary. He has now been successful in four of his six starts and is held in the highest regard by his trainer.

“He’s a really exciting horse with a huge future,” said Greatrex. “He’s not slow but he stays very well and I think the Neptune would be the right race for him at Cheltenham.

“The horse was just green and jumping into space. To do everything wrong like that and still win shows that’s he’s got a lot of guts and a lot of raw ability. If we can put everything together then he’s going to be a hell of a horse. It’s exciting.

“He’ll have learned plenty today. It’s the first time he’s been in a fight at the end, but he knuckled down and got the job done.”

Greatrex also had news of another star Westerner inmate at his Lambourn stable, the 2015 G1 Stayers’ Hurdle hero Cole Harden (8g Westerner-Nosie Betty, by Alphabatim), who ran a great race when second in the G2 Cleeve Hurdle on his latest start.

“The other day was fantastic on ground he wouldn’t like. He showed his old spark and it was his best run for 18 months. All roads lead to Cheltenham and he’s been there and done it before,” added Greatrex.

“I have a lot of respect for the favourite but with better ground and spring weather on his back he really comes to life. He’ll be in there fighting. He’s seems to be thriving at the moment and he’s come out of the race so well.”

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