Samcro justifies hype with convincing Ballymore triumph

Wed 14 Mar 2018

Watch a full replay of the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle won by Samcro at Cheltenham on Tuesday and reaction from winning trainer Gordon Elliott and owner Michael O'Leary.

Samcro lived up to the hype with victory in the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

Gordon Elliott's big hope was sent off the 8-11 favourite for the opening race on day two, having arrived unbeaten in six starts under rules.

Teenager Jack Kennedy made sure there was no hard luck story by keeping out of trouble on the outside 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 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.

Elliott said: "We are very lucky to have him and I wouldn't be afraid to bring him back in trip. He has loads of pace and he only comes awake when the race starts to get going.

"Jack Kennedy said when got to the front, he pulled up again. It's great to have horses like this and I'm delighted for Michael O'Leary and all of our staff who work so hard.

"He's proved his class today and I do think he has the class and speed to stay over hurdles.

"Shane McCann rides Samcro out every day and knows him - he does all the work with him and I only train him. He does all the hard work. This is a big team effort that I have at home and it worked out great.

"There was a lot of pressure today - for Jack, for me and for the whole team - so I am delighted. He's a big idle devil and just does what he has to do."

"Michael likes having chasers so we'll have a chat before making any decision. He was bought to be a chaser but we'll talk about it.

"We had a rough day yesterday with Apple's Jade running below par and Mossback sadly losing his life, but in this game, you just have to pick your head up and go again."

Samcro runs in the colours of Gigginstown House Stud, whose Michael O'Leary, the boss of Ryanair, said: "He was terrific - very good - and was given a great ride by Jack Kennedy.

"That was a brilliant ride from Jack Kennedy - he had him in the right place the whole way round - and a brilliant training performance from Gordon. That gets Gordon on the board for today. It is wonderful.

"There is still too much hype, but at least he has won in Cheltenham and is going the right way.

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

Kennedy 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."

Samcro is 10-1 for next year's Arkle Novices' Chase and 9-2 for the JLT Novices' Chase with Betfair.

RaceBets gave Samcro a 7-1 from 12-1 quote for next year's Champion Hurdle, and Elliott said: "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.

"I will have to speak with Michael and Eddie (O'Leary), 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."

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."

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