Olly Murphy star bids to become first horse to win consecutive runnings in ten years


Olly Murphy says Thomas Darby will be tackling his “Gold Cup” when he bids to complete a back-to-back success in the Coral Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury on Friday, November 23, the opening day of the Coral Gold Cup meeting.

The Grade 2 feature has attracted Britain’s best 3m hurdlers with all six of the original entries being declared for the £60,000 prize.

Paisley Park, winner of Stayers’ Hurdle in 2019, is set to line up in the race for the fourth time, having also won the race in 2019, finishing second in 2020 and third in 2021. He is joined by Champ, winner of the Grade 1 Long Walk Hurdle last season, the up-and-coming Proschema, who took the West Yorkshire Hurdle at Wetherby last month, and Dashel Drasher, a Grade 1 winner over fences who has won six of his nine starts over hurdles. Tea Clipper completes the field.

Thomas Darby will bid to become the first horse to win consecutive runnings since the great Big Buck’s won four times from 2009 to 2012. He had to concede 6lb to Proschema when finishing ten lengths behind the Dan Skelton-trained runner at Wetherby in October. They meet on level terms this time with Sean Bowen taking over from Aidan Coleman, who rides Paisley Park.

“Thomas Darby is in good form,” said Murphy. “He is a bit better off at the weights with Proschema than when they last met, but he would want to improve plenty to be beating Dan’s horse.

“If it turned into a real staying race he could run really well. He does like Newbury.” Thomas Darby was himself receiving 6lb when defeating Paisley Park 12 months ago and now both carry the same weight.

“They are all a year older this year and Thomas Darby has had a prep run,” Murphy added. “He will be going there razor sharp fit and this is his kind of Gold Cup for the season so I am hoping he can run well.

“Champ is going to be hard to beat off his Long Walk Hurdle win last year as well. It’s a very competitive race but we are looking forward to running him.”

Coral’s David Stevens said: “A classy sextet of staying hurdlers, including two previous winners of this race have stood their ground for Friday’s Coral Long Distance Hurdle, with the market headed by the impressive recent Wetherby winner Proschema for an in-form Skelton team.”

Coral Long Distance Hurdle betting (Coral): 15-8 Proschema, 5-2 Champ, 5 Paisley Park, 11-2 Dashel Drasher, 7 Thomas Darby, 20 Tea Clipper