Gordon Elliott has raised the possibility of Samcro making his debut over fences at Down Royal in early November.
The Gigginstown House Stud-owned seven-year-old looked a superstar in the making after extending his unbeaten record under Rules to seven in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at the 2018 Cheltenham Festival.
However, he suffered a heavy fall in the Punchestown Champion Hurdle the following month and failed to run up to expectations in three starts last season – most recently finishing fifth in the Ryanair Hurdle at Leopardstown last Christmas.
Samcro was subsequently found to be suffering a lung infection, which ultimately ruled him out for the remainder of the campaign, but Elliott is delighted with his charge ahead of his return to action.
He told The Irish Field: “It’s a great time of year, as all the winter horses are back in and we’ll try and get some of them going over the next six to eight weeks.
“Both Samcro and Apple’s Jade have had wind operations. They look great and the pair of them are in very good form – they are good and strong.
“I’d imagine that he (Samcro) will go chasing and he might start off somewhere like Down Royal in a beginners' chase. He looks great and I’ve been very happy with him.
“He has always looked like a chaser and all is good with him.”
Apple’s Jade’s was spectacular in winning her first four starts of last season, but lost her way in the second half of the campaign.
Elliott is hopeful she will bounce back to her best and is eyeing an historic fourth successive victory in the Hatton’s Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse in December.
Apple’s Jade currently shares the record of three victories in the race with Limestone Lad and Solerina.
Elliott added: “She will go the same road again as she did last year. Her main early season target will be the Hatton’s Grace at Fairyhouse – we’ll try to win that race for the fourth year in a row.
“I’d say she’ll start off at Navan in the race she won last year (Lismullen Hurdle) and then she’ll go to Fairyhouse.
“She looks great and I’ve been very happy with her. She owes us nothing and she is a great mare to have in the yard.”
Meanwhile, owner Philip Reynolds has mooted the John Durkan Chase at Punchestown as a possible starting point for Presenting Percy.
The eight-year-old was sent off favourite for the Gold Cup at Cheltenham in March but having had only one previous outing over hurdles, he could only finish eighth.
Problems were subsequently found which prevented him from running again, but all those have now been resolved.
Reynolds told the Irish Field: “It’s a case of so far, so good. Pat (Kelly, trainer) and Jerry Kelly (vet) are happy with him and once they are happy that’ll do me.
“He had a small procedure to remove fluid from his back and I don’t know if that had anything to do with how he ran at Cheltenham. We also found he had bone bruising post Cheltenham.
“He is starting off the season just like everybody else and the reality is that he might just be “another horse”.
“This time last year I couldn’t lie straight in bed with excitement. I think the best chance a horse has of winning a Gold Cup is straight after their novice season. Now he will be meeting all of last seasons novices, along with Al Boum Photo, so we’ll just have to see where he fits in.
“It’s a bit early to say where he’ll start back. Hopefully we’ll get started somewhere before Christmas, but everything needs to be right for him.
“Clonmel will come too soon for him, as will Down Royal, so I suppose you could be looking at the John Durkan at Punchestown. Where he might go after that remains to be seen – there is a lot of water to go under the bridge before then.
“I just hope we don’t have another winter like last year – the ground was quick all winter and a repeat would be a disaster.”
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