Olly Murphy is excited to see what his team can achieve next season after enjoying a breakthrough campaign.
It is less than three years since Dove Mountain became the Warwickshire-based trainer’s first runner and winner at Brighton in July of 2017, but the former assistant to Gordon Elliott has since firmly established himself as one of National Hunt’s rising stars.
The undoubted highlight of a season truncated by the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic was the Grade One success of Itchy Feet in the Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase at Sandown in early February – a first at the top level for Murphy.
He said: “I think we had a good season on the whole. I trained my first Grade One winner, which was massive for me and a big monkey off my back. To train a Grade One winner this season was the one thing I wanted to do, so I’m delighted in that respect.
“We’ve had 67 winners, so I was on track to probably just surpass last season’s total (82), if I had a good end of March and April.”
By his own admission, however, last month’s Cheltenham Festival did not go as Murphy would have hoped.
Leading Arkle contender Brewin’upastorm unseated Richard Johnson four fences from the finish, while Itchy Feet made it no further than the sixth obstacle in the Marsh Novices’ Chase.
“We had a very disappointing Cheltenham, for one reason or another,” he added.
“Unfortunately my horses didn’t get far in either of their Grade Ones, which was annoying, but that’s jump racing – it’s just a shame we didn’t get to see how good they were on the biggest stage.”
The master of Warren Chase Stables has already started to make future plans for his star duo.
“They’re both fine and they’ll both come back as proper Graded chasers next season, hopefully,” he said.
“Whether we’ll start Itchy Feet off in a graduation chase somewhere or something like the Old Roan at Aintree, I don’t know, but he’s one to look forward to.
“Brewin’upastorm is the same. Nothing went right for him, but he was just getting into the race when he unseated at the ditch. It’s frustrating, but that’s racing.
“I’d say he’ll start off in either a graduation chase or the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter.”
There are plenty of other horses Murphy is looking forward to running, including several who have not yet graced the racecourse.
He said: “I have 45 or 50 horses that I haven’t run all season – waiting for a bit of nicer ground. There’s a lot of four- and five-year-olds, so you’ll see Olly Murphy with an awful lot of bumper horses and novice hurdlers once racing starts back up.
“Thomas Darby was all ready to go for the Aintree Hurdle, but obviously that didn’t happen. I’m not sure what we’ll do him next season.
“Skandiburg will go jumping fences; I K Brunel will go jumping fences; The Wolf – who ran well in the Albert Bartlett to finish seventh – he’ll be jumping fences as well.
“We had some really smart bumper horses, like Champagnesuperover and Here Comes McCoy, who will go novice hurdling.”