Colm Murphy is confident champion hurdler Brave Inca will put up an improved performance in the Ballymore Properties Hatton’s Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse on Sunday.
The eight-year-old was third behind rising star Iktitaf and Asian Maze on his seasonal reappearance in the Morgiana Hurdle but Murphy expects an improved showing this weekend.
Brave Inca finished third in the corresponding race 12 months ago when only a length behind Solerina.
“Things didn’t work out as well as they did last year (in the Morgiana) as they went no gallop, but they went a good pace this year in soft ground and that was always going to be a bit difficult for him first time up,” said Murphy.
“He ran a cracker but he got very tired before they turned in but he ran on once again.
“We were delighted with the way he ran on in the end and I think he will come on a good bit for it and I’d imagine he will have come on again before Sunday.
“It’s two and a half (miles) on Sunday and I don’t think it will be a problem as he stayed on really well last year.
“It was really soft ground and he needs to get another run into him before Christmas – he takes a couple of runs to come to himself.
“We’ll be taking on Asian Maze again and everything such as the ground and the trip will be in her favour but our fellow will give her a race. If he wins it will be a bonus.
“After Sunday, the plans will be much the same as last year and, please God, that should leave him cherry-ripe for Cheltenham.
“The bewleyshotels.com December Festival Hurdle (Leopardstown, December 29) and the Irish Champion (Leopardstown, January 28) will be the races and, all being well, it will be off to Cheltenham after that,” Murphy told At The Races.