Copperless to miss early season but has County Hurdle target

Olly Murphy’s Copperless will miss the early part of the new campaign after suffering a stress fracture – and may make his seasonal debut at the Cheltenham Festival.

Copperless was last seen winning the Swinton Hurdle at Haydock in May, an eight-and-a-half-length victory which was rich compensation for a penultimate-flight fall on his previous start when going well at Aintree.

The County Hurdle is now on the agenda for the six-year-old.

“Copperless is going to miss the first half of the season, because he has picked up a stress fracture,” said Murphy.

Copperless winning at Taunton last term
Copperless winning at Taunton last term (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“The plan is to have him back for the second part of the season.

“He is going to miss a couple of months, and it is not ideal timing by any stretch of the imagination, but we will have him back for big festivals in the spring. I still think he has got a lovely mark.

“We might go straight to a County Hurdle – I would be looking at something like that, because I don’t think he would be ready much before that.”

Murphy’s Thomas Darby finished third behind Thyme Hill in the Ryanair Stayers’ Hurdle at Aintree on his last outing and is likely to remain at the same three-mile trip, with Wetherby’s Grade Two bet365 Hurdle identified as his starting point at the end of this month.

“Thomas Darby goes to Wetherby for the West Yorkshire Hurdle, then we can look at Newbury for the Long Distance Hurdle or the Long Walk at Ascot,” said the Warwickshire trainer.

“He is in great form, and I couldn’t be happier with him. I’m really looking forward to carrying on over three miles with him.

Olly Murphy's Thomas Darby
Olly Murphy’s Thomas Darby (Bradley Collyer/PA)

“I don’t think his Aintree run was a fluke – I thought it was a hell of a performance.

“He came down to the last looking like he would win, but he just got out-battled up the straight by Roksana and Thyme Hill, so he is one to look forward to in that division.

“He has won and run well at Cheltenham, so I can’t see why he wouldn’t run up to form around there again. But that is still a long way off, and we have to get Wetherby out of the way first.”

Stablemate Brewin’upastorm tried his hand at chasing last term when running in both the Colin Parker and the Tingle Creek, but he quickly reverted to hurdling after finishing last on both occasions – and was subsequently a Grade Two winner when taking the National Spirit Hurdle at Fontwell in February.

The eight-year-old was then fifth in the Grade One Aintree Hurdle and is due to start his campaign back at the same track early next month.

“He goes to Aintree on November 6 for a two-and-a-half-mile conditions hurdle,” said Murphy.

Brewin’upastorm at Cheltenham
Brewin’upastorm at Cheltenham (David Davies/PA)

“He wants two and a half miles, and that is what he will be aimed at throughout the season.

“I think if I did anything with him he would go up in trip, but I will stick to two and a half miles for the time being.

“He is in good form but he won’t jump a fence again. He did everything wrong at Aintree but still ran respectably in defeat.

“He got a terrible fright jumping a fence, and I don’t think there is any need at this stage of his career to go back and jump a fence.

“He is a good hurdler and he will pick up plenty of prize money jumping them.”

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