Having suggested in a previous article that this could well be the year that Olly Murphy lands his maiden Cheltenham Festival winner with Itchy Feet in the Marsh Novices’ Chase on day three, I now am going to fast forward that milestone two days.
He has a live Champion Hurdle outsider in Thomas Darby, should he run there – but it is in the Arkle Novices’ Chase, the first race run over fences at the Festival, that he can etch that first notable notch on his tally.
Brewin’upastorm is a topical selection too, with so much racing abandoned due to the inclement weather conditions currently. With Cheltenham Festival form when fourth in last year’s Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle, a perfect 2 from 2 record over fences, an even more striking 4 from 4 record when appearing off a break – and it all adds up to Brewin’upastorm having a massive chance in a race that will really be run to suit. At 9/1 with William Hill, I could see him being latched on to in the next few weeks.
Notebook, Cash Back and live outsiders Rouge Vif and Global Citizen are all likely to race up with the pace – not to mention Fakir D’Oudairies if he were to line up here – so we are guaranteed a strong pace to the race.
This will suit the strong travelling Brewin’upastorm perfectly, as highlighted by his ability to make a striking mid-race move to jump the second last in last year’s Ballymore upsides City Island and Champ. He paid for this in the closing stages, but with the benefit of a wind-op in the winter, the addition of stiffer obstacles in front of him which he relishes, and the aforementioned strong pace to aim at – the suggestion that a potential career defining performance is in the offing for horse and trainer is not an unrealistic one.
Having had a slight hold up mid-season, the only worry is that he doesn’t make the race, but the NRNB concession is an option at only one point less with Skybet, if you are so inclined.