Olly Murphy: 'On his day I genuinely think Thomas Darby can beat anything'
Olly Murphy was on the money at Newbury on Wednesday, but also had his mind on matters at Ascot on Saturday when he hopes the enigmatic Thomas Darby can make him a TV hit in the Grade 1 Howden Long Walk Hurdle.
Thomas Darby is a general 8-1 to give the trainer a second win at the highest level and impressed at Newbury last time, capturing the Grade 2 Long Distance Hurdle.
He is a horse Murphy has always had lots of belief in, but you sense he would not bet the bank on the eight-year-old – until now perhaps.
"Having big Saturday runners is what we want to be doing," said Murphy, in Newbury's winner's enclosure thanks to I K Brunel.
"Young trainers like me, who are trying to make a name for themselves, want to be competitive in big races and we've been a lot busier on Saturdays this year and winning a lot more at weekends on terrestrial TV than in previous years.
"We've got those horses who can be competitive in that grade and it helps you climb the trainers' table. It's good prize-money and he's a horse – on his day – I genuinely think can beat anything. He bolted up at Newbury last time, and if he turns up in his best form, I think he's got a big chance."
Murphy, who trains Thomas Darby for the Whateley family, added: "He's a bit hit and miss and I can never tell! It'll be interesting to see if he backs up Newbury because it's his second run with a tongue-tie on – he's a horse who has undergone wind operations. Hopefully having it on again will help his cause.
"He's in good form and I'm looking forward to running him. I'd have loved another week from Newbury, but beggars can't be choosers.
"He's very well in himself and he's beaten plenty of them. It's a proper race and Ronald Pump has strong form in Ireland, but on his day, my fella is very good. He's a funny horse because the day you fancy him is the day he runs ordinary, so I'm half holding my breath."
Ascot's clerk of the course Chris Stickels was on duty at Newbury and anticipates the ground at his regular track – described on Wednesday as soft, good to soft in places – would be as nice as it has ever been at this time of year.
That was music to the ears of Murphy, who has booked Sean Bowen for the ride as long as he is fit after a schooling fall on Wednesday morning.
"He's won around Ascot and has also run very well there," Murphy went on. "A big galloping track suits him well.
"I think the ground will be slow without being bottomless, but he's won on slow and we're going there full of confidence."
Nicky Henderson's Coral Hurdle winner Buzz heads the Long Walk betting at 7-4 from last year's second Thyme Hill, a 5-2 chance for the race that is the centrepiece of ITV4's coverage on Saturday afternoon.
Long Walk Hurdle
Paddy Power: 7-4 Buzz, 5-2 Thyme Hill, 9-2 Champ, 5 Ronald Pump, 8 Paisley Park, Thomas Darby, 12 On The Blind Side, 20 bar
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