Olly Murphy hopes Brewin’upastorm may yet make his mark at the highest level after a successful start to his campaign at Aintree.
The Warwickshire trainer has never made any secret of the regard in which he holds the eight-year-old, who has been placed in Grade One company on multiple occasions and last season won the Grade Two National Spirit Hurdle at Fontwell.
Having undergone a wind operation for a second time during the summer, Brewin’upastorm was a 5-1 shot for his return to action in the Betway Hurdle – and he delivered a dominant display.
After travelling powerfully into the straight, Aidan Coleman’s mount stamped his class from the second-last – powering nine lengths clear of If The Cap Fits, who pipped Lisnagar Oscar to second.
Murphy said: “I thought it was a very good performance, giving 6lb to the majority of the field.
“I’ve never shied away – I’ve always thought this lad was very good, (but) he has to have everything go his way.
“He got a terrible fright when he unseated in Cheltenham the guts of two years ago, and it’s taken me a long time to get this horse back.”
On future plans, he added: “He’s a hard horse to campaign now in England really – because he’s probably not a three miler, and he’s definitely not a two miler.
“I’m not sure where we’ll go next, but he might one day go over the water (Ireland) for those small-field graded races over there.
“He can be very bad and put in a lackadaisical round of jumping, but I hope he can win a Grade One one day – because on his day he can be very good.”
Brewin’upastorm’s victory completed a double on the card for Murphy and Coleman, with 17-2 shot Linelee King earlier winning the Betway Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase.
“He’s a nice horse who didn’t achieve what I thought he’d achieve over hurdles, but his schooling over fences has been very good – and for a horse having his first run over fences, I thought he jumped immaculately,” said the trainer.
“He’s a horse who is going to carry on improving, and I hope he could win a nice race at some point.”
Hillcrest carried the colours of the late Trevor Hemmings to victory in the Betway EBF “National Hunt” Novices’ Hurdle.
Making his first appearance since landing a Wetherby bumper in the spring, the Henry Daly-trained six-year-old travelled strongly for much of the two-and-a-half-mile journey under Richard Patrick.
In the end, the 11-4 joint-favourite was made to pull out all the stops by Our Jet – with three-quarters of a length separating the pair at the line.
Triple Grand National-winning owner Hemmings loved nothing more than a winner at Aintree, and Daly was visibly moved after this first Aintree success in his famous colours since his death.
He said: “For this horse to win today, with lots of Trevor’s family here – it’s pretty cool.
“He might be very good, we’ll see. A slow-run race like that was not playing to his strengths, and he bunny-hopped one or two (hurdles), but the faster it got the better it suited.
“He’s a big boy – a classic ‘T Hemmings’. My measuring stick goes up to 18 hands, and it won’t go over him! I don’t know how big he is because of that.
“We’ll crack on over hurdles, and try and teach him a bit.”
There were scenes of jubilation in the winner’s enclosure after 80-1 shot Koshari sprang a surprise in the Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle.
Formerly trained by Willie Mullins, the nine-year-old walked through the Doncaster sales ring unsold last month, but was subsequently snapped up by Northern Ireland-based David Christie.
Given a patient ride by Jonathan Moore, Koshari finished with a flourish to deny Deise Aba by a neck, with Remastered a close-up third.
“I was expecting a good run and I couldn’t believe the price – the boys (owners) were on him each-way,” said Christie.
“He’s a good horse. It’s not that long ago he won a hundred-grand race in Punchestown, and he was sixth in the Galway Plate in the summer, which takes some doing.
“He went to the sales and wasn’t sold, and I just happened to be at Thurles one day and chatted to Ruby Walsh and he said ‘that horse is fine’, so we bought him privately.
“Ruby actually rang me yesterday, and there’s no better man than him to ride any racecourse over here. He said just sit and sit and come at the last and he was spot-on, so well played to Ruby!
“These folks have never been over here with a horse of any kind. This is their first trip to Aintree – and isn’t that what racing’s all about?”
Darling Du Large was a 6-1 winner of the Betway Supports Safer Gambling Week Handicap Chase for Tom George and Jonathan Burke, while the concluding Betway ‘Junior’ NH Flat Race went to the Milton Harris-trained Legionar (100-30), ridden by Mitchell Bastyan.