Tag Archive for: Thomas Darby

Olly Murphy thrilled with Thomas Darby effort

Olly Murphy will continue to aim Thomas Darby at the top staying hurdle races following his creditable effort at Ascot on Saturday.

Races such as the Cleeve Hurdle, Stayers’ Hurdle and the Liverpool Hurdle will be considered after he backed up his Long Distance Hurdle win at Newbury with fourth place in the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot on Saturday.

“He ran really well, we’re very happy. I thought he’d win at the back of two out, just where he usually picks up and takes off. He just flattened out and got very tired from the back of the last,” said Murphy.

“I’d have loved an extra week with him, but no excuses on the day.

“He’s a horse that has proved he can compete at the highest level and whether we go Cleeve Hurdle and then Cheltenham or we go straight to Cheltenham or Cleeve Hurdle and Aintree, I’m not sure. But he’s a very good horse.

“He got a good ride off Fergus Gregory having his first ride in a Grade One and he’s a horse that’s got plenty of ability.”

Brewin’upastorm was hugely impressive at Aintree on his comeback
Brewin’upastorm was hugely impressive at Aintree on his comeback (David Davies/PA)

Murphy also had news on Brewin’upastorm who is on course for the Dornan Engineering Relkeel Hurdle at Cheltenham on January 1.

The eight-year-old made a triumphant return in the Betway Hurdle at Aintree last month after 212 days off the track.

“He’s good. I’m looking forward to running him at Cheltenham in 10 days or so,” said Murphy.

“He goes there a fresh horse. He’s really well in himself and I couldn’t be happier with him.”

Murphy mulling Long Walk outing for Thomas Darby

Olly Murphy has yet to decide whether to run Thomas Darby in the Howden Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot on Saturday week.

The Stratford trainer reports the eight-year-old to be in fine shape following his victory in the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury, but is in no rush to commit Thomas Darby to the Grade One over an extended three miles.

“He’s in really good form. It’s still up in the air whether I’m going to go to Ascot with him,” said Murphy.

“I’ll look at the back end of the week or early next week, but I couldn’t be happier with him.

“He’s come out of Newbury really well. I haven’t done a lot with him.”

Thomas Darby is a general 7-1 chance with bookmakers for the Long Walk.

Itchy Feet is likely to run over the Christmas/New Year period (
Itchy Feet is likely to run over the Christmas/New Year period (Steven Paston/PA)

Murphy is to scour the programme book to find a suitable opportunity over the festive period for Itchy Feet.

The smart seven-year-old chaser has run two big races in defeat so far this season, finishing second to Allmankind in the Old Roan Chase at Aintree and to Bravemansgame in a Graduation Chase at Haydock.

“He came out of Haydock really well. It was a really pleasing run in hindsight. I’m not quite sure where we are going to go next but he’s in great form,” said Murphy.

“He deserves to win a nice race. He’s been ultra consistent this year and I’m looking forward to finding something suitable for him over the Christmas and New Year period once I’ve spoken to connections.”

Thomas Darby returns to top form with Long Distance glory

Thomas Darby returned to his best to run out a ready winner of the Ladbrokes Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury.

Always highly regarded by Olly Murphy, Thomas Darby was on the verge of becoming a little disappointing but fitted with a tongue tie for the first time, travelled sweetly in the hands of Sean Bowen.

For Paisley Park, the 2019 Stayers’ Hurdle winner, a change of tactics were adopted and despite shying away from the starting tape when it was raised, Aidan Coleman soon had him in a share of the lead with On The Blind Side.

Emma Lavelle’s popular hurdler did not seem to hit his usual flat spot at any stage and was still travelling well until landing awkwardly three out, which then put him under pressure.

Thomas Darby loomed up to challenge after the penultimate obstacle and Paisley Park had no answer, dropping back to third.

On The Blind Side, ridden by James Bowen, brother of the winning jockey, kept up his honest gallop to the line, but Thomas Darby had a comfortable two and a quarter lengths in hand.

Mrs Milner was another who briefly threatened but eventually came home fourth, while Indefatigable and Lisnagar Oscar were disappointing.

Betfair cut the winner to 16-1 from 40s for the Stayers’ Hurdle in March.

Murphy said: “Turning in, I thought ‘he’s lost all my trust’, but then he has come hard back on the bridle. I have always said he is a good horse and while I felt ‘he has always let me down’ is probably too strong, I just thought I would stick a tongue tie on him and he has seen his race out really strong.

“He made a mistake down the back and he is very good horse on his day. He has got there plenty soon enough and hasn’t done a stroke when he hit the front.

“We’ll look at something like Ascot (Long Walk Hurdle) over Christmas. He had a hard race but not a terribly hard one. Sean didn’t pick up his stick on him from the second last to the line.

“I don’t see any reason why he wouldn’t be a Stayers’ Hurdle horse – there is not a lot on this side of the water. The Irish have a stronger hand than us, but I just want to see him go and back this up.”

Thomas Darby pulls clear of On The Blind Side
Thomas Darby pulls clear of On The Blind Side (Adam Davy/PA)

Henderson said of the runner-up: “He is just a star. He tries and tries and tries. And he fought them all off and we were giving the winner weight (4lb).

“He has to go to Ascot but I am going to go there with Buzz. But what else can you do? He will go up for that and he is out of handicaps, so you haven’t got much choice.

“They will probably finish fourth and fifth for all I know, but Buzz is going to the Long Walk and he will have to go there too.”

Ascot could also be on Paisley Park’s agenda.

Lavelle said: “We will go home and see how he is. He ran a solid enough race. He travelled well today and he jumped great, but he just hasn’t quickened and others have.

“It might just be that when the ground is softer that nothing can quicken and he doesn’t get exposed to not having that turn of gear at the end.

“Can we find a four-mile hurdle? He’s run grand without being brilliant and I think ultimately rain is what we need and that will help him.

“What I liked about him today is that he travelled well and the thing about jumping fences is you have to travel to jump, so I would be more interested on the back of that about jumping a fence, but Andrew (Gemmell, part-owner) is keen to go for the Long Walk – he has won it twice – and then decide. Ascot is probably more of a stamina test for him.

“The cheekpieces helped – but I wanna win!”

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.”

Olly Murphy aiming to build on Grade One glory as jumps season gets going

Having enjoyed a breakthrough campaign last term, Olly Murphy is setting the bar even higher as the jumps season really starts to kick into gear.

Having been associated with a number of Grade One winners during his time as assistant to Gordon Elliott, the Wilmcote handler celebrated the first top-level triumph of his own with Itchy Feet in the Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase at Sandown in February.

Though the Kate and Andrew Brooks-owned gelding failed to follow up that success when unseating Gavin Sheehan mid-race in the Marsh Novices’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, Murphy expects the six year-old to be a major contender for big-race honours this season.

He said: “Itchy Feet is in great form and the plan is to go for the Old Roan at Aintree. He is still very unexposed as he has really only had two runs over fences.

“What his long-term goal is, I don’t know, but we will get the Old Roan out of the way. If he went and won up there, we might look at something like the King George as I do think he will get an easy three miles.

“He is a horse that has fooled me as his two best runs were at Cheltenham and Sandown on very soft ground and I always thought he wanted nice ground.”

Thomas Darby, noseband, will potential be aimed at the Paddy Power Stayers' Hurdle if all goes to plan
Thomas Darby, noseband, will potentially be aimed at the Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle if all goes to plan (Bradley Collyer/PA)

Thomas Darby saw his chasing career aborted after two defeats over fences last season, but having returned to form back over the smaller obstacles, Murphy believes he could have a potential Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle candidate on his hands.

He said: “He is a horse, on his day, that is very good and a horse capable of being competitive at Grade One level, which he has shown before.

“I’m going to stick over hurdles with him and he will go to Aintree to the conditions hurdle in November, with maybe the view to stepping him up in trip and looking at those good three-mile races.

“I don’t see any reason why he won’t stay three miles and the staying division looks fairly open at the moment – it’s an avenue we will explore.”

Brewin’upastorm’s Festival run did not go to plan as he parted company with Richard Johnson in the Arkle, however, Murphy is confident the best is yet to come from the lightly-raced seven-year-old.

He said: “He was just starting to get into the Arkle, but nothing went right for him in the race and it was topped off by unseating Dicky.

“I am going to step him back up in trip and he may well go up to Carlisle for the Colin Parker, or to Down Royal for that Grade Two over two and half miles there.

“He is in fantastic form and looks magnificent. He is one we have not seen the best of yet.

“The Ryanair might be a nice target in time, but I think he is a very good horse when everything goes to plan.”

Murphy feels the switch to chasing will help Overthetop realise his potential having come up short in both of his efforts at Graded level over hurdles.

He said: “He has frustrated me a little bit as every time I stepped him up to Graded company, he has disappointed me a little bit.

“I thought he would be a Graded horse over hurdles, but there is no doubt he would be a smart staying novice chaser and one to look forward to.

“He will run when the ground eases, most likely in a two-and-a-half-mile novices’ chase. Going over fences will just give him that bit more time.”

Skandiburg saw his hat-trick bid come unstuck in the Pertemps Final, but Murphy is backing the six-year-old to revive his fortunes over fences.

He said: “He was a star last season. He is a horse that really puts a smile on my face as he tries very hard. At Cheltenham he certainly wasn’t himself.

“He is likely to start off over two and a half miles, but he will want three and could be one for the National Hunt Chase. He jumps very well.”

Keeping Nickolson sound presents as much of a challenge as getting him fit for races, but with a clear run, Murphy predicts big things for the Tim Syder-owned gelding.

He said: “The plan is to go to Carlisle for an intermediate hurdle. The race is made for him as it is for horses that have only run twice over hurdles. He will go there with a view to going to the Gerry Feilden at Newbury after that.

“I don’t like talking horses up, but he is as nice a horse as I have in the place. He hasn’t fulfilled his potential yet, I just hope he can.”

Linelee King may have found the Champion Bumper beyond him on his final start last season, but he secured what the avid Aston Villa fan hopes will be the first of many victories over hurdles at Kelso on Sunday.

He said: “He wasn’t right that day in the Champion Bumper, but he did what was expected at Kelso.

“I will step him up in trip on a more galloping track next. I think we will keep things small for the time being.”

Of those waiting in the wings, Champagnesuperover and Jetaway Joey are two Murphy particularly cannot wait to unleash over hurdles in the coming weeks.

He said: “Champagnesuperover is a horse that will hopefully take high rank in the novice hurdle division.

“He will want two-and-a-half, but a Tolworth Hurdle on very heavy ground might just suit him well as a mid-season target.

“Jetaway Joey is a lovely horse that will be a staying type. He handles soft conditions very well and from what we’ve seen, he jumps great. I think he could be a bit of a dark horse.”