Olly Murphy reports Hunters Call to be in the best shape he has ever had him for his long-awaited return in next month’s Grade Three Ascot Handicap Hurdle.
The lightly-raced eight-year-old has been out of action since landing the same valuable contest on his stable debut last year, having sustained a setback in March during his build-up for the County Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
Murphy said: “I’ve never had Hunters Call so well, and I will be going straight to Ascot with him for the race he won last year. I’m not saying he will go back and win, but he looks fantastic.
“There has been no recurrence of the injury, and he will be going to Ascot 110 per cent ready.
“I just completely ran out of time for the Greatwood. I would have ended up rushing him and I just thought in hindsight it would be better to wait for the race at Ascot.”
The Wilmcote trainer intends to give Itchy Feet a short break before stepping up his preparations for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Festival, after finishing second in a Grade Two at Cheltenham on Sunday.
Murphy said: “Itchy Feet is going to have a little break until after Christmas – then we will give him a prep run and go for the Supreme.
“I know he is a big price for the Supreme, but I don’t know what more he could have done than win a Listed race and only just getting beaten in a Grade Two.
“He is likely to get his ground, and a strongly-run two miles will really suit him.”