Ruby Walsh believes Samcro would be best served by going chasing this season.
Connections of the brilliant six-year-old, trained by Gordon Elliott and owned by Gigginstown, seem torn over which path to take.
Eddie O’Leary, of Gigginstown, said this week that the chances of him staying hurdling rather than being switched to fences were “50-50”.
However, Walsh thinks it may be detrimental to the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle winner, who is unbeaten in seven completed starts under Rules, if he stays over the smaller obstacles.
"From his pedigree and coming from his point-to-point background, and the way he jumps, he looks a chaser and that's the way I'd be inclined to go with Samcro this season," the serial champion jockey says in his latest blog for Paddy Power.
"I know he fell on his last start [in the Punchestown Champion Hurdle] but he does look to be a wonderful jumper.
“He ticks the right boxes to head for a Champion Hurdle as in he's a Ballymore Novices' Hurdle winner like Istabraq, Hardy Eustace and Faugheen. On the other hand, if he stays over hurdles for another season, it's often harder to go over fences then.
“The only horse who has won a Champion Hurdle and then won a Gold Cup, is Dawn Run. On that basis, you'd have to wonder if a second season hurdling is the right way forward for a horse whose ultimate aim is to be a chaser.”
Samcro is 8-1 for the Unibet Champion Hurdle and the same price for the Arkle. He is 5-1 favourite for the JLT and is 12-1 to land the RSA.
David Cleary and Oli Bell analyse the Cheltenham success of Samcro
“It's a long way from a beginners’ chase to a Cheltenham Gold Cup and a lot of things have to go right,” Walsh said. “That's the choice that Gigginstown have to make and whatever way he goes, he's a horse you'd want to be avoiding.
“If he was to go chasing, whether it be an Arkle Trophy, a JLT or a RSA Chase that he lines up in at the Cheltenham Festival, I think you'll find it will be a small field taking him on.
"Gigginstown have been extremely successful with chasers but having said that, neither of their Gold Cup winners would have won a Champion Hurdle. In that way, Samcro is probably a bit different to War Of Attrition and Don Cossack.
“They kept Petit Mouchoir for a Champion Hurdle and maybe because of that, his chasing career didn't hit the scales that it might have.
“I'm sure they'll put a lot of thought into it and until you see him line up in a beginners’ chase or a conditions hurdle, you won't really know which way he's going." Paddy Power make Samcro 4-9 to stay over hurdles and 13-8 to at least start the campaign over fences.
Eddie O’Leary, of Gigginstown, told the Racing Post this week: "He [Samcro] went back into training with Gordon a few weeks ago, but it is still very early days so nothing has been set in stone.
"The Champion Hurdle at Punchestown was supposed to tell us where we were going. If he'd won that he was staying over hurdles and, if he was beaten, we were going chasing. He fell before we knew what would have happened, so it didn’t decide anything."
Meanwhile, Walsh expects to be back in action for Listowel’s Harvest Festival which starts on September 9.
He has been sidelined since being stood down following a fall from Sapphire Lady at Killarney last Saturday.
While Walsh has not sustained any broken bones, he has bruised his ribs and will take his time to return.
“It was a heavy enough fall and I was badly winded afterwards," he said. "I have a lot of bruising to my rib cage, especially around the sides and the back. They’re fairly sore.
“They say things come in threes and I think that’s more conducive to healing than things happening in threes. If you’re not better in three days, you’re generally better in nine days and I’m hoping that’s the case.
“With no jump racing for most of the professional jockeys next week, there could have been a worse time to have a fall like that. I’ll be back for Listowel on Sunday week, that’s the plan.”
Walsh has endured a torrid 10 months in terms of injury, spending four months on the sidelines after breaking his leg last November, only to aggravate the injury again in a fall in the RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.
He returned in time for the Galway Festival at the end of July before suffering his latest setback.
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