Thomas Darby and Didtheyleaveuoutto do battle in what promises to be an informative running of the David Brownlow Charitable Foundation ‘Introductory’ Hurdle at Ascot on Friday.
Olly Murphy’s Thomas Darby made a big impression when justifying cramped odds on his racecourse debut in a Huntingdon bumper in the spring and will again be ridden by champion jockey Richard Johnson.
The five-year-old made a successful start to his hurdling career at Cheltenham last month and the form received a significant boost over the weekend after the runner-up – Colin Tizzard’s Elixir De Nutz – returned to Prestbury Park to land the Grade Two Supreme Trial, beating Murphy’s Itchy Feet.
Murphy said: “He’s in good form and I think he’s come on since his last run.
“He was very green in Cheltenham and you’d hope he’ll improve for that, so we’ll see how we go.
“It looks a proper race, but I wouldn’t swap my horse for anything else and we’ll know where we’re going after this, hopefully.”
The JP McManus-owned Didtheyleaveuoutto looked every inch a top-class prospect after winning his first two bumpers last season, including a Listed contest at this track last December.
He rounded off his campaign by finish 10th in the Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival and made a winning reappearance on his hurdling bow at Fakenham last month.
“It looks a competitive race, but we’re very happy with our horse and we’ll have a better idea of where we stand after Friday,” said Gifford.
let’s see what we’ve got.
“Fakenham did a job. He jumped well without being spectacular on a trappy little track. He travelled well through the race and did what he needed to do to win.
“He will need to improve, but that isn’t beyond the realms of possibility.
“They’ve all only run once over hurdles – that’s what these races are for – so let’s see what we’ve got.”
Both Thomas Darby and Didtheyleaveuoutto are a best-priced 25-1 for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham in March.
Chris Gordon’s Commanche Red is another interesting contender.
The son of Mahler was sixth in the Aintree bumper in the spring and could not have been more impressive on his recent hurdling debut at Fontwell.
Gordon said: “It looks a hot race and if he can run into a place we’ll be delighted.
“He’s got to step up on what he’s done before, but he is in good form and we were very pleased with him at Fontwell.
“I think everything should suit him, so fingers crossed he runs a nice race.”
Colin Tizzard unleashes Highest Sun, who was bought for 125,000 euros after winning his only start over hurdles in France.
Ratoute Yutty makes his debut for the bang-in-form Dan Skelton after bolting up in a Navan maiden hurdle a year ago when trained in Ireland by Robbie McNamara.