Thomas Darby in good shape for hurdling return at Ascot

Murphy hoping majority of rain stays away.

  • Tuesday 14 January
  • News
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Olly Murphy hopes to see Thomas Darby return to the smaller obstacles for the Matchbook Holloway’s Handicap Hurdle at Ascot on Saturday.

The Beneficial gelding rounded off a fine novice campaign over timber with an excellent effort to fill the runner-up spot behind Klassical Dream in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

He was considered one of Britain’s most exciting recruits to the novice chasing ranks at the start of this season, but a narrow defeat on his debut over fences at Warwick and a disappointing performance on his second start at Kempton has prompted a change of direction.

Murphy told Sky Sports Racing: “That’s the plan (to run on Saturday) – I’m just hoping all this rain doesn’t hit Ascot.

“I’m obviously stepping up in trip. He’s arguably got plenty to prove now, from the outside looking in, but he’s in good form and if he reproduces some of his form from last year he’ll have a good each-way chance.

“We’ve put chasing on hold for another six months. He’s still raw and immature and he’ll go back jumping fences next season.

“He’s still unexposed and the last time we saw him over hurdles he was second in a Supreme. I know that form has had a few dents, but he seems in good form at home and it’s imperative I step him up in trip now.”

Two Murphy-trained horses who have made an impact in the novice chase division this season are Brewin’upastorm and Itchy Feet.

Brewin’upastorm is two from two over fences after wins at Carlisle at Taunton, but has been sidelined by injury since the latter of those triumphs in mid-November.

“He’s good and back cantering away. I’m a little bit tight for time to get him ready for the Kingmaker (Novices’ Chase, at Warwick), but he’s in good form,” said Murphy.

“He gave himself a bang when he won at Taunton. If I can get him to Warwick then great and if not we’ll go somewhere small for a little bit more experience and then all being well head for an Arkle.”

Itchy Feet made a winning start to his chasing career in an admittedly weak affair at Leicester last month.

Murphy added: “He jumped well at Leicester. He beat nothing, but he couldn’t have won any more impressively.

“I’m not sure where I’m going to go with him next. Andrew Brooks (owner) is keen to go straight to Sandown for the Grade One (Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase) and that is a possibility, as long as the ground doesn’t go too soft there.

“I think he’ll come into his own with a bit of sun on his back and a bit of spring ground.

“He’s an exciting horse to look forward to for the spring.”

Thomas Darby in good shape for hurdling return at Ascot

Ascot 14:25, 18 January 2020

Ascot 14:25, 18 January 2020

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