Brewin’upastorm too good for favourite McFabulous at Fontwell

Brewin’upastorm was an emphatic winner of Fontwell’s Loch Lomond Whiskies National Spirit Hurdle – at the chief expense of short-priced favourite McFabulous.

Olly Murphy’s eight-year-old, on his second start back over hurdles after two unsuccessful chasing efforts earlier in the season, followed up his impressive Taunton handicap victory in this Grade Two feature.

Brewin’upastorm, fancied for last year’s Arkle Challenge Trophy only to unseat his rider at Cheltenham, has no Festival entries this time round – and will instead be seen next in the Grade One Aintree Hurdle at the Grand National meeting.

In receipt of 6lb from 4-6 shot McFabulous, he demonstrated he is a major force to be reckoned with at around this near two-and-a-half-mile trip over hurdles – striking from off the pace under Aidan Coleman to win by five and a half lengths at 3-1.

Your first 30 days for just £1

Murphy said: “I’m absolutely chuffed with that – he’s a very, very talented horse.

“It’s great to have that winning form at graded level.

“He got a very, very bad fright over fences – and things certainly didn’t go to plan on those runs.

“But Taunton was a great stepping stone, and then to win with as much authority as he did today in that company was very pleasing.”

Paul Nicholls’ McFabulous, so impressive in last month’s rerouted Relkeel Hurdle at Kempton, rarely looked happy – making a minor early mistake and a second more significant one in front of the stands on the first circuit.

As he began to labour behind the front-running Molly Ollys Wishes, it was obvious Brewin’upastorm was going much better – and he was not hard-pressed to lead between the last two flights and move easily clear, with McFabulous having to settle for second.

“The penalties worked in his favour today,” added Murphy.

“But if they’d been reversed, and everyone was getting penalties off him, it would have made no difference.

“The way he won, he absolutely bolted up.

“He saw the two-mile-three out very well today, and the plan will be to go straight to Aintree for the two-and-a-half-mile Grade One there.”

The Warwickshire trainer has always had a high opinion of Brewin’upastorm, and is delighted to have had his faith repaid.

“He’s kind of knocked on the door as a novice over hurdles and over fences and never really won a nice race, so I was just chuffed for the horse that he’s won this race,” added Murphy.

“I’d say he’ll never jump a fence again. But if he can be a good hurdler that will suit me just fine.

“There’s plenty of avenues to go down there, and he’s one to look forward to now we’ve got his confidence back.”

Brewin’upastorm in good shape for National Spirit challenge

Brewin’upastorm is reported to be in top shape as he sticks to the smaller obstacles for the Loch Lomond Whiskies National Spirit Hurdle at Fontwell on Sunday.

The Olly Murphy-trained eight-year-old made successful return to hurdling with a convincing display at Taunton in January.

Before that his last run over hurdles was at Aintree in April 2019, when he was second in a Grade One contest to Reserve Tank.

He had been chasing exclusively since October that year and even ran in the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown in December before connections decided to go back hurdling.

“He’s in good form. Obviously the revert back to hurdles worked well the last day,” said Murphy.

Your first 30 days for just £1

“The ground will suit and the small field should suit well. He gets 6lb off the majority of the field, so we’re looking forward to running him.”

Cornerstone Lad is another coming back to hurdles after finishing second in both his starts over fences.

Trainer Micky Hammond wants to save the 2019 Fighting Fifth winner for an uninterrupted chasing campaign next term.

“We feel at this stage of the season we’d like a full novice chase season next time around and hopefully without too much Covid-19,” said Hammond.

“He’s in good form at home. It was a choice of the National Spirit or the Morebattle Hurdle (at Kelso on March 6). The ground is beginning to dry.

“He likes a bit of dig in the ground which he’s sure to get on Sunday. We’re looking forward to taking our chance in what looks a very open race.

“He’s generally a good jumper so reverting back to hurdles shouldn’t inconvenience him.”

McFabulous is a major player in the National Spirit
McFabulous is a major player in the National Spirit (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

McFabulous goes for a third Grade Two success of the season after taking the Persian Novices’ Hurdle and the rescheduled Relkeel Hurdle at Kempton.

Paul Nicholls expects McFabulous to be hard to beat.

“This has been the target for McFabulous for a while and the drying ground over the past week is all in his favour,” the Ditcheat handler told Betfair.

“He is a class act, won nicely at Kempton and though two miles and three furlongs is probably the minimum for him round this tight track he is in great shape and will hopefully take all the beating. Then he will bypass Cheltenham and wait for Aintree.”

Dan Skelton’s progressive mare Molly Ollys Wishes, Nicky Henderson’s Call Me Lord and the aofrementioned Reserve Tank from the Colin Tizzard stable make up the field of six.

Brewin’upastorm set for National Spirit date

The National Spirit Hurdle at Fontwell is next on the agenda for Olly Murphy’s Brewin’upastorm.

Having disappointed on his first two starts of the season over fences, the eight-year-old was switched back to the smaller obstacles at Taunton last month and could hardly have been more impressive.

Murphy has not given his charge any entries for the Cheltenham Festival at this stage – and hopes to have a clearer idea of where his charge might head in the spring after he tests the water at Grade Two level on February 28.

He said: “The plan is to go for the National Spirit at Fontwell next. He is in good form and he has come out of Taunton really well – hopefully that will have done his confidence the world of good.

“We will stay hurdling for the time being and see how high we can go over hurdles.

“We know he has a good level of ability, but it was a good performance at Taunton.

“He is not a very big horse, so I was impressed with him carrying that sort of weight in a handicap.

“He did beat older horses, but the manner in which he did it was smart and he can only improve from that.”