OLLY Murphy is confident Washington will prove up to the task at Haydock Park on Saturday (May 13) should he take up an engagement in the Pertemps Network Swinton Handicap Hurdle.
The Wilmcote handler intends to make a late decision over the participation of the lightly raced seven year old in the £100,000 feature at the Merseyside course, which he won back in 2021 with Copperless.
Although without a victory to his name in more than 14 months the Westerner gelding has run a number of creditable race in defeat since scoring at Southwell last March, including when finishing third in a valuable contest on his most recent outing at Aintree last month.
Murphy said: “It is a little bit up in the air to be honest whether Washington runs. He is in good form and he had a good run at Aintree. This is going to be another very competitive race but he would have an each-way chance if he runs.
“I feel that he is a horse that just comes to himself in the spring. He looked an awful lot better going into Aintree than he did at any other point last season.
“Aintree was a good run as they went a right good gallop and he probably did well to finish as close as he did given the position he was ridden in.
“He is a consistent horse and I don’t see any reason why he couldn’t run respectably in a race like this.
“Copperless was very progressive at the time and this lad, if he goes there, will be going there off the back of a good run at Aintree as well in the same race Copperless ran in before winning this, so there is something similar in their profiles.”
Murphy has not ruled out running Rambo T, who also holds entries at Warwick and Market Rasen, in the opening Pertemps Network Long Distance Handicap Hurdle.
However he has warned stablemate Butch is unlikely to take his chance in the extended three mile prize.
He added: “The ground would have to be very soft for Butch to run up at Haydock Park so I would say he is an unlikely runner and Rambo T has a couple of entries but he is a possible runner at this stage.
“His form has worked out well but unfortunately he unseated on his last start when I thought he was going to win at Sedgefield.
“It will be his first run in a handicap wherever he ends up and he will be competitive off 120.”
Closer to home Murphy intends to send a number of runners to Warwick on Saturday which could include stable stalwart Hunters Call in the Winners Wear Cavani Handicap Hurdle.
He added: “Hunters Call could run at Warwick on Saturday and obviously Rambo T is in that race as well.
“Hunters Call had a fantastic run on his last start at Ayr and I thought he was going to win at one stage.
“It would be fantastic if I can win another race with him before he retires as he has been a great servant for me. His constitution is still very good and he still retains plenty of ability.”
One horse that Murphy is excited about saddling at the meeting is Present De Vango, who holds entries in both the Watch Irish Racing On Racing TV “National Hunt” Maiden Hurdle and the racingtv.com Open National Hunt Flat Race.
He added: “I’m looking forward to running Present De Vango. He was a little bit disappointing the first time out at Market Rasen but I think he will be a nice horse going forward.
“We’ve a few entries at Warwick and I look forward to running a few there and supporting my local track.”