Olly Murphy stable star Itchy Feet finished a staying on second behind Imperial Aura in the 2m5f 1965 Chase at Ascot on Saturday and after showing his staying prowess in the final stages, Murphy will now step him up to three miles.
Itchy Feet has been one of the yards best horses over the last few years having landed the yards first ever Grade One winner last term when taking the Scilly Isles Novices' Chase at Sandown.
As a hurdler, the six year old gave a career best performance at the 2019 Cheltenham festival when finishing third behind the Willie Mullins trained Klassical Dream and stablemate Thomas Darby.
He was stepped up to fences last term and made a superb start to life over the bigger obstacles when taking his two events including that black type event at Sandown.
He then headed into the Marsh Novices' Chase at this year's Cheltenham festival and although being one of the market leaders could only unseat Gavin Sheehan early on in the contest.
He made his debut this season in the Grade Two Old Roan Chase at Aintree last month and off the back of his decent third, went to Ascot at the weekend and was a fair second behind the progressive gelding for Kim Bailey.
(Credit ATR) Murphy said: “He ran well. It was only his fourth completed start over fences, so he still lacks a bit of experience and I think that showed from four out to three out, where he made two bad mistakes, which really put him on the back foot.
“He stayed going well and I thought he ran a big race considering the two mistakes he made. I’m not saying we would have beaten the winner, but we would have finished an awful lot closer to him if we didn’t take the fourth last with us!”
While Murphy feels the six-year-old is now ready for a step up in trip, he has basically ruled out a go at the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day, and instead will send him to Ascot again for the Dave Dawes Silver Cup a week earlier.
He added: “He’s come out of the race fine and there’s a three-mile handicap chase back at Ascot on December 19. There’s a two-mile-five graduation chase on the same day, but I want to go up in trip, so I’d say we’ll probably look at the three-mile handicap.
“I don’t think we’ll be going for the King George – I just think everything would happen too quickly for him round Kempton.
“He’s a good horse and had a good horse in Real Steel behind him the other day – I just think he wants three miles and soft ground.
“He’s a horse who is going to compete at the highest level, I’ve no doubt.”