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Press Release 29th December 2023 Cheltenham

By Graham Clark

Olly Murphy admits it would be great to see stable stalwart Brewin’upastorm finally lay his Cheltenham ghost to rest by securing what he describes would be a deserved first success at the track in the Dornan Engineering Relkeel Hurdle on New Year’s Day (Monday 1st January 2024).. 


The Milan gelding, who will turn 11 on the day of the race, will make his third appearance in the Grade Two feature, which he has contested for the previous two seasons, on what will be his sixth appearance at the Home of Jump Racing. 


After falling at the last when still holding every chance in the 2022 renewal of the extended two and a half mile test the dual Grade Two scorer could only finish fifth behind Marie’s Rock in last season’s race. 


And although Brewin’upastorm is now in the twilight of his career Murphy reports the Barbara Hester-owned gelding, who finished fourth in the 2019 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, to be in top order ahead of his next assignment. 


Murphy said: “He has been an absolute star for the yard, but he is not getting any younger, however he is still in good form. 


“He needed his first run of the season like he does every season. There is not much around for him apart from this race. He retains plenty of ability and I’m looking forward to running him. 


“He deserves to get his head in front around Cheltenham as he has had some near misses there and he has been unlucky on a couple of occasions as well, including in this race. 


“Barbara Hester his owner has been having a good time of things lately and he is her pride and joy. It would be nice if he could run well at Cheltenham again for her.”


The Wilmcote handler will also be represented in the race by Strong Leader, who found only Blueking D’Oroux too strong at the same level on his most recent outing on his first start over an extended two miles three furlongs in the Coral Hurdle at Ascot last month.


Last season the son of Passing Glance fared best of the British runners in the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle when finishing ninth in the Grade One at The Festival, before filling the runner-up spot at the same level in the Poundland Top Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree.


Murphy said: “He had a good run at Ascot, and I think the outer track here at Cheltenham will suit him. He seems in good form, and he is still relatively unexposed. I’m hoping that he has a good each way chance. 


“He was still quite green at Ascot and there is a small chance I might fit him with a set of cheekpieces. He still has plenty left in the tank.  


“He appeared to appreciate the step up in trip at Ascot and we thought we would do that after his run in the Welsh Champion Hurdle. 


“It wouldn’t surprise me if he wants further in time. I’d say we could probably look at going up in trip in the spring, but it would be nice to win a good pot over two and a half miles with him first. 


“He was a good novice hurdler, and he was the first of the British-trained horses home in the Supreme last season.  


“It was good to see him come out and run so well at Ascot. He is rated in the mid-140s now and hopefully with time he can improve on that mark.”


Elsewhere on the card Butch will attempt to complete a hat-trick of victories for the season when lining up in the Paddy Power Handicap Hurdle. 


Murphy added: “Butch will run in the handicap hurdle over three miles. He is in good form and I’m looking forward to running him. 


“He is still on an upward curve and he is an unexposed staying hurdler. This will help us decide which route we go for the rest of the campaign. 


“He was tough the last day there, and he had to do all the donkey work himself. Hopefully we can take a lead here and ride him normally. We’ve had a race like this on our mind for a while with him.”


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