Itchy Feet provided Olly Murphy with a first Grade One winner in the Betway Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase.
Murphy, a former assistant to Gordon Elliott, has made giant strides in his fledgling career to date, but there is no doubting that a first win at the highest level is a landmark day.
Settled at the rear by Gavin Sheehan, Itchy Feet was always travelling well within himself despite racing slightly detached from the main bunch.
Good Boy Bobby, Grand Sancy and Midnight Shadow were all helping force the pace, but one who never got involved was Willie Mullins’ Laurina, with the Champion Hurdle fourth in the rear throughout.
Sheehan brought Itchy Feet through to challenge at the second last, but he met that one wrong and found himself back in fourth.
However, Sheehan let his mount find his stride again and soon after he was back on the bridle before jumping the last cleanly, coming away from Midnight Shadow to win by three and a half lengths.
Murphy said: “I’m not an emotional person, but that meant a lot. I’ve always had faith in this lad.
“Andrew (Brooks, owner) was very keen to come here and he pays the bills and has supported me since day one. It has been a plan well executed and he got a masterclass of a ride from Gavin, who took his time in testing conditions.
“It was only his second run over fences, so it was a good performance. He is a horse that has got a big engine and he was third in a Supreme.
“He has never done anything wrong in his life, except when I ran him at Kempton and he was all wrong. We came home, made a plan and went jumping fences and it has been a well executed plan. It is magic and this is what you dream about.
“We will let the dust settle, but I’d imagine we will go to Cheltenham for the Marsh.
“Today is a dream come true. I’m 28 and I’ve trained a Grade One winner. It’s a special day.”
It was also a first Grade One win for Brooks, who added: “It is absolutely magical.
“I said I didn’t want to step him up in trip, but Olly said he had to step up and all credit to him.
“We were all saying before, he was third in the Supreme and came from behind. That was a hard race that day in thick mud and he stayed and today he stayed again. I think he could probably go further.
“There’s lots to look forward to and roll on Cheltenham now. It is an amazing experience with the whole family here. Kate (wife) wasn’t feeling great, but I said ‘you’ve got to come’.”
Sue Smith is also looking to the Marsh Novices’ Chase at the Festival with Midnight Shadow.
She said: “I’m very pleased. He has run an absolute cracker. He is a very straight, genuine horse.
“He has got lots of talent, so we keep trying him at these bit bigger races and he keeps coming up trumps for us. He has been beaten today, but I’m delighted with what he has done.
“It is a step forward to come down here and compete with these horses – he is doing a very good job.
“We will go to Cheltenham next. I think a fraction better ground would suit him better. It would be for the Marsh he would go for.”