OLLY Murphy has put Itchy Feet's chasing career on hold for a crack at the Stayers' Hurdle.
The Grade 1-winning seven-year-old switches back to the smaller obstacles in the Rendlesham at Haydock on Saturday after an up-and-down time of it over fences.
He won his first two starts as a chaser, including the Scilly Isles at Sandown last year, but since unseating when 7-2 second favourite in the Marsh Chase at Cheltenham last year he has gone 0-3.
Warwickshire-based Murphy still has plenty of faith in the horse, who as a hurdler finished third in the 2019 Supreme at the Festival.
He is a 25-1 shot for the Stayers' with Betway, but those odds will collapse if he gets his head back in front this weekend.
Murphy told Sun Racing: "He's in good form and his schooling back over hurdles at home has been very good.
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"He hasn't won this year but he hasn't done a lot wrong, bar his jumping hasn't been up to scratch.
"In some ways it's a similar tactic that worked with Brewin'upastorm, who won when we sent him back over hurdles last time.
"This lad was a very good hurdler and he is very talented, but it just hasn't happened for him so far over fences this season."
Itchy Feet will take on the reigning Stayers' Hurdle champ Lisnagar Oscar in a mouthwatering clash on Saturday, with the classy Emitom, On The Blind Side and Main Fact also lying in wait.
But he receives weight from his main market rivals, and Murphy reckons the step up to three-miles could unlock some improvement.
He continued: "He gets some nice allowances off a few of the other runners in there and he is going over three-miles for the first time.
"I think the way he has been finishing out his races over two-and-a-half he will definitely stay, and it could well suit him.
"But it's his first try so we will ride him accordingly and hopefully he will come home strong.
"As long as he runs well on Saturday he will go for the Stayers' Hurdle at the Festival."
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