Olly Murphy is leaning towards putting the chasing career of Thomas Darby on hold after identifying the Champion Hurdle Trial at Haydock as a potential target.
Last season’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle runner-up has failed to inspire in two starts over fences, suffering short-priced defeats at Warwick and Kempton.
Although plans remain fluid for the six-year-old, the Wilmcote handler has earmarked the Grade Two contest as a potential target in a bid to salvage his season.
Murphy said: “We’ve had his wind checked and bones scanned and nothing has come to light. Plans are a bit up in the air at the moment, he is back cantering away but he will not been seen until mid to late January.
“If I was forced to make a decision now he would probably go back jumping hurdles and have a look at something like the Champion Hurdle trial or possibly step him up to two and a half miles over hurdles.
“He has never really looked confident jumping a fence and the last day at Kempton he was beaten a long way out – we are deep into the season and I don’t want to be winning a beginners’ chase in January.”
A switch to chasing is on the cards for Itchy Feet, who finished one place behind Thomas Darby at the Cheltenham Festival, after impressing Murphy with his schooling over fences.
Murphy said: “Itchy Feet will either go to Doncaster or Haydock for a beginners’ chase. His schooling has been very good and he seems in good form. I’m looking forward to getting him going over fences.
“He did have a couple of engagements after his run at Kempton and they came a bit quick, so we decided to wait and go over fences with him.”
Murphy confirmed unbeaten novice chaser Brewin’upastorm is back in training after recovering from a recent setback.
The six-year-old will be stepped up to Grade Two company on his next start, for either the Kingmaker at Warwick or Lightning Novices’ Chase at Doncaster.
Murphy said: “Brewin’upastorm is fine and is back in training. It was a shame he didn’t get to go to Sandown for the Henry VIII, as he would have been right up there, but that’s racing and he is one piece.
“He will either go to Warwick for the Kingmaker or Doncaster for the Lightning, it will be one run before the Cheltenham Festival, which will hopefully be part of a big spring campaign.”