Relegate will bid to earn both herself and trainer Colm Murphy a return to the Cheltenham Festival winner’s enclosure when she lines up for the Pertemps Final next week.
It is 14 years since Murphy claimed Champion Hurdle glory with the popular Brave Inca, since when he has also tasted success at the showpiece meeting with Big Zeb in the 2010 Queen Mother Champion Chase and Empire Of Dirt in the 2016 Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate.
After making the difficult decision to relinquish his licence in September of that year, it appeared Murphy’s days of saddling Festival winners were over.
However, he returned to the training ranks last May and has high hopes of adding to his tally in the Cotswolds with Relegate – a Festival winner herself, having landed the 2018 Champion Bumper for then trainer Willie Mullins and amateur rider Katie Walsh.
“Empire Of Dirt was our last runner and last winner in Cheltenham,” said Murphy.
“I probably didn’t expect to be have another runner so soon after coming back – it’s nice to be going back with a horse with a chance.”
Having been off the track for a year, Relegate made a highly encouraging return to action and debut for Murphy when fourth in a Pertemps Qualifier at Punchestown last month.
With the British handicapper handing her a revised mark of 137 last week, the daughter of Flemensfirth is guaranteed a place in the field for the Final – and is prominent in the market at around 7-1.
Murphy said: “She’s seems in good form, so fingers crossed it’s all systems go. She’s entered in a few races in Cheltenham, but the Pertemps looks the race for her.
“We were delighted with her run in Punchestown. We’d had a few little stop-starts, and it wasn’t ideal to be running her over three miles on heavy ground on her first run back, but we had to start somewhere – and she ran a good race.
“We’ve been happy with her since and on the best of her form she doesn’t look badly handicapped, obviously.”