The Grade Two event on Friday, registered as the Kennel Gate Novices’ Hurdle, has been pinpointed as the next port of call by Olly Murphy for his exciting five-year-old.
He won a Huntingdon bumper in May before striking too on his hurdling debut – from Colin Tizzard’s Elixir De Nutz, who has franked the form in no uncertain terms since.
Thomas Darby was then narrowly beaten by Nick Gifford’s highly-regarded Didtheyleaveuoutto last time out.
“Thomas Darby will go to Ascot on Friday, as long as it it not bottomless,” said Murphy.
“Looking at all the forecasts, the weather doesn’t seem too bad – so he should go.
“He’s in good form, and I’m really looking forward to running him.”
Also likely to line up is Warren Greatrex’s Encore Champs, who has won a bumper and a novice hurdle this season
“Encore Champs is very well, and a probable runner at this stage rather than a possible,” said Greatrex.
“There’s a few spots of rain around through the week, and he wouldn’t want it getting really bad, but I am confident he will handle soft ground.”
Jamie Snowden is also eyeing up the race for Thistle Do Nicely, a winner at Wincanton and Wetherby already.
“I had it my mind to go for a Listed hurdle at Haydock, but he rapped his shin at Wetherby and had to miss a few days while the cut healed up,” said Snowden.
“It was going to be tight getting to Haydock, and Friday’s race was the only other option – so it made sense to wait.”