The Gordon Elliott-trained Samcro justified the hype with a scintillating performance in the Grade 1 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle, the first race on day two of the Cheltenham Festival.
The 8/11 favourite was always well positioned throughout the two and a half mile contest and despite wandering towards the stands’ side rail up the Cheltenham hill, the six-year-old son of Germany responded willingly to Jack Kennedy’s urgings to score by two and three-quarter lengths over Tom George’s Black Op (8/1) in second.
The Willie Mullins-trained Next Destination (4/1) stayed on strongly to finish a further five lengths behind in third.
The winning trainer, enjoying his 15th success at the Festival, commented post-race:
“With horses like this, there is lots of pressure on them delivering, but Samcro did it well and we can enjoy this now. 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.”
Samcro is only 4/1 for the 2019 Grade 1 RSA Chase and 16/1 for the 2019 Gold Cup.