Last seasons superstar hurdler for Gigginstown Stud and the Gordon Elliott camp, Samcro is set to make his seasonal debut at Down Royal in the Grade 2 WKD Hurdle after the trainer confirmed today that his star performer will stay over hurdles this season.
The six year old has had an brilliant career so far and last season was his stand out year where he went over hurdles for the first time and went on to win four of his runs. His best win came at the Cheltenham Festival where he took home the glory in the Ballymore Novices Hurdle.
He was last seen at the Punchestown Festival on his final outing of the year in the Punchestown Champion Hurdle where he took a nasty fall and the first of his professional career. From there they had to make the decision of whether to keep him over hurdles and lead with the aim of sending him into the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham or start him up over fences.
(Credit At The Races) Trainer Gordon Elliott said:“He’s in great form, and the plan is for him to start off in the Grade 2 WKD at Down Royal on Friday.
“I’ve spoken to (owners) Michael and Eddie O’Leary, and we’ve decided to keep him over hurdles this season in the hope that he can develop into a Champion Hurdle contender.
“I’ve never had a Champion Hurdle horse before, and Gigginstown have yet to win it, and we thought that it was worth giving Samcro a shot at that race.
“He started off in point-to-points – and when we bought him at Aintree, he was bought as a future chaser, and hopefully we will see him over fences in the future. As far as this season is concerned, though, he will be staying over hurdles – and we are going to try and follow a path towards the Champion Hurdle.
“I’m under no illusions about the challenge that he faces. But he was a top-class novice hurdler last season, and the race he won at Cheltenham has produced a number of previous champion hurdlers in Faugheen, Hardy Eustace and Istabraq. Samcro has a long way to go to be mentioned in the same breath as them, but he’s done absolutely everything that we have asked of him so far, and I’m hoping that there’s more to come
“We’ll get Friday out of the way first and we’ll just take things race by race, but he’ll follow a traditional sort of path to Cheltenham.”
Samcro is now being looked at very highly in the market for the Champion Hurdle in March and is just behind the Nicky Henderson trained dual winner Buveur D'air in the betting markets with some bookies having them co-favourites at 3/1.
(Credit Racing UK)