Sensational Samcro lives up to all the hype at Cheltenham

Gordon Elliott was able to breathe a sigh of relief after Samcro landed the odds in the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham

Sensational Samcro lives up to all the hype at Cheltenham

Gordon Elliott was able to breathe a sigh of relief after Samcro landed the odds in the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham

Samcro Picture:Pat Healy Photography

Unbeaten prior to heading to the Festival, connections had been attempting to play down the hype surrounding the Gigginstown House Stud-owned six-year-old, but plenty of punters made him their banker bet of the week.

Teenager Jack Kennedy made sure there was no hard-luck story by keeping out of trouble on the outside on the 8-11 favourite and cruised into contention on the final bend, taking up the running from Vision Des Flos.

While Black Op made good headway to break away from the rest, he never looked like catching Samcro Horseform and a mistake at the final flight stopped his momentum.

Next Destination, off the bridle early under Ruby Walsh, flew up the hill to claim third, just ahead of stablemate Scarpeta.

Elliott raised the possibility of a Champion Hurdle tilt next year, but stressed all plans would be discussed in due course.

"It's a big team effort from everyone at home, and it worked out great today," he said.

"There was a lot of pressure, for Jack, for me - for everyone, the whole team."

Gigginstown supremo Michael O'Leary, the boss of Ryanair, said: "He was terrific - very good - and was given a great ride by Jack Kennedy.

"He's done everything that Gordon's asked him to do. It was great.

"Now the worry is for him to keep fit and well. We'll see how he gets on.

"Hopefully he'll be fit and well and head to Punchestown, and then Gordon will make a plan next year for him.

"At least he's won at Cheltenham so he's going the right way."

Elliott went on: "He looks a very exciting horse and we are very lucky to have him. Michael loves his big chasers, but I wouldn't be afraid to bring him back in trip.

"He has loads of pace. He only comes awake when the race gets going and he is asleep the first half of the race. When he got to the front, he pulled up again."

Elliott drew a blank on the first day, but it didn't have much of an effect on stable confidence.

"I've had plenty of days like that (yesterday), I went to Navan one day with five favourites and every one of them fell so I am well used to having days like that - you just have to pick your head up and go again," he said.

"When you have horses like that, you are very lucky and for the owners and staff it is great. I'm delighted. The last day showed how good he was and today proved it."

RaceBets cut Samcro to 7-1 from 12-1 for next year's Champion Hurdle, and Elliott said: "I will have to speak with Michael and Eddie (O'Leary, racing manager). Michael loves big chasers, but he has definitely got the class and speed to stay over hurdles.

"He was bought to be a chaser and Colin Bowe, who trained him for his point-to-point, recommended him strongly to us. He is a very good horse."

Kennedy, riding his second Festival winner after Labaik in the Supreme last year, said: "That was unreal. He's just a class horse. I was there way too soon on him, but he kept going.

"The horse is very good. I wasn't happy with the position I had during the race, but he's such a good horse that he got me through."

Tom George, who won the Supreme Novices' Hurdle with Summerville Boy in the Black Op colours on Tuesday, said of his runner: "He was best of the English horses anyway.

"It was a great run and he's going to make a cracking three-mile chaser, all being well.

"He's got a bit of age on his side because Roger (Brookhouse) has been patient with him and has allowed me to be patient for him. Hopefully we'll get the rewards for that.

"It was all about today. We haven't thought about the rest of the season."

Willie Mullins said of Next Destination: "He stayed on very well and ran a good race and I thought Scarpeta (fourth) ran a fantastic race.

"Danny (Mullins) had to switch and he just got chinned by Next Destination."
At The Races

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