Cleeve Hurdle third Strong Leader set to bypass Cheltenham

Olly Murphy's talented hurdler Strong Leader will bypass the Stayers' Hurdle in favour of a tilt at Aintree the following month.

Trainer : Olly Murphy
Trainer : Olly Murphy Picture: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

The Olly Murphy-trained Strong Leader remains completely unexposed in the staying hurdle division and seemingly relished the step up to three miles for the first time when third behind Stayers' Hurdle contenders Noble Yeats and Paisley Park.

Whilst the first two in the Cleeve Hurdle will reoppose back at Prestbury Park next month, Olly Murphy's Strong Leader looks set to return to Aintree in favour of the Grade 1 Liverpool Hurdle.

The seven-year-old has already produced some smart form at the Liverpudlian venue courtesy of his second-place finish to Inthepocket in the Grade 1 Top Novices' Hurdle last season and Murphy is confident of a bold showing if his charge can put it altogether.

The Warren Chase Stables handler said: "He's going straight to Aintree for the three-mile race,"

"I know everyone talked about Paisley Park and Noble Yeats and rightly so, but he was the unlucky loser. He never jumped a hurdle, didn't come down the hill and yet was only beaten a length and a quarter.

"He relished the step up to three miles. His sectionals were very good over two miles, but he's always worked like a horse who would want a trip.

"He will go straight to Aintree and whether he will be good enough, I'm not sure, but he's a very good horse on his day – and the one day it all clicks for him, then he could win a big one."

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