Murphy eyeing three-mile test for Itchy Feet

Itchy Feet is likely to return to Ascot for a first attempt at three miles next month after chasing home Imperial Aura at the Berkshire circuit on Saturday.

Having finished third on his seasonal reappearance in the Old Roan at Aintree, Olly Murphy’s charge was the outsider of four runners in the Grade Two Chanelle Pharma 1965 Chase.

While ultimately no match for Kim Bailey’s impressive winner, Itchy Feet stayed on strongly to fill the runner-up spot, despite a couple of significant jumping errors at the business end of the race.

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Murphy said: “He ran well. It was only his fourth completed start over fences, so he still lacks a bit of experience and I think that showed from four out to three out, where he made two bad mistakes, which really put him on the back foot.

“He stayed going well and I thought he ran a big race considering the two mistakes he made. I’m not saying we would have beaten the winner, but we would have finished an awful lot closer to him if we didn’t take the fourth last with us!”

While Murphy feels the six-year-old is now ready for a step up in trip, he has all but ruled out a tilt at the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day, instead favouring Ascot’s Dave Dawes Silver Cup a week earlier.

He added: “He’s come out of the race fine and there’s a three-mile handicap chase back at Ascot on December 19. There’s a two-mile-five graduation chase on the same day, but I want to go up in trip, so I’d say we’ll probably look at the three-mile handicap.

“I don’t think we’ll be going for the King George – I just think everything would happen too quickly for him round Kempton.

“He’s a good horse and had a good horse in Real Steel behind him the other day – I just think he wants three miles and soft ground.

“He’s a horse who is going to compete at the highest level, I’ve no doubt.”

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