Beat the Bookie: Bombproof Samcro can wing it for O'Leary and blow away rivals
Racing craves heroes - hyped horses that do their talking on the track. Unbeaten and unbeatable.
Samcro carries the heavy burden of that green jersey this week. He was always massively rated, even revered, at Colin Bowe's Enniscorthy point-to-point academy.
Michael O'Leary's cash splurge of £335k (after a sole point-to-point win) is fast becoming a sounder investment than a Ryanair Boeing jet.
Gigginstown House Stud's Samcro has run six times and won six times; an odds-on jolly on every occasion.
He's everything you look for in a racehorse; laid-back, tall, athletic, fast, and has no shortage of stamina.
The Ballymore Novice Hurdle has always been his seasonal target and no Irish horse has been more spoken about in Festival previews.
Chinks in Samcro supremacy? He has never raced abroad. There are no comparative cross-channel seasonal novice form lines.
Willie Mullins' Next Destination is no slouch. Yet Samcro's saunter at Leopardstown surely means he's bombproof, set to win this race easily. Vision Des Flos might sneak a place at long odds.
The Champion Chase is the day's centrepiece, a tremendous renewal with three proper Grade One stars lining up. For me, it's still Altior's race to lose, despite a lameness scare, having gone 12 from 12 over consecutive hurdles/chases.
Doubters depend on the 'bounce' factor, post his wind operation and his scintillating return at Newbury. Nicky Henderson is happy.
How can Douvan be his superlative best? He hasn't been seen since injuring his pelvis in this race last year.
Ruby Walsh keeps the faith but I've lost it. Min has only won Grade Twos.
In the 2016 Supreme Novices' Hurdle, Altior showed Min a clean pair of heels. I'll be very surprised if he doesn't do the same again today. Politologue looks held.
The history horse of the week is Gordon Elliott's Cause of Causes, going for a four-in-a-row success in the Glenfarclas Cross Country.
A great spectacle, which of course bookies refer to as "the race they keep going round and round until the favourite is in front". Traditionally, it's a punters' benefit.
JP McManus's course specialist was second in last year's Aintree Grand National. He's an evergreen 10-year-old, running off level weights, despite an official rating of 152. He has a stone in hand.
Anticipate him coming late to win, under a typically patient Jamie Codd ride, and it looks like a clean sweep of the first four home for the Irish. Soft ground is the only concern.
Heading the RSA Novice Chase betting market are Irish horses: Pat Kelly's Presenting Percy and Henry de Bromhead's Monalee.
The former won a Festival handicap last year but disappointed a few times when stepped up to the highest class. Not for me.
Willie's Al Boum Photo was unlucky at Limerick but repeat jumping errors here won't suffice.
Monalee won a Grade One at Leopardstown in February. That form looks very strong, having finished second in the Albert Bartlett last year. The bay gelding is a natural chaser and seems certain of a place.
In the Champion Bumper, Blackbow's attitude in both Leopardstown wins was exemplary in terms of tenacity; it's the best domestic form line. And with his accomplished pilot, Patrick Mullins, having been on the mark with Rathvinden yesterday, it should fuel hope among his many supporters of another success for the Closutton team.
As for the rest of yesterday's action in the Cotswolds, it was great to see my banker bet Buveur D'Air couple his accomplied hurdling style with substance on his way to a second Champion Hurdle crown.
The JP McManus-owned gelding had to dig deep into his resources of class and courage under Barry Geraghty to fend off the persistent challenge of Melon up the hill.
However, just 40 minutes later my 'next best' in the shape of Apple's Jade floundered when push came to shove in the OLBG Mares' Hurdle and while only beaten a length and a half by the Mullins-trained Benie Des Dieux, she clearly ran below her best in coming home third.
In contrast, Footpad delivered on my expectations in the Racing Post Arkle Novice Chase. Ruby Walsh excelled with his patient tactics aboard the 5/6 favourite as he held up the French-bred in third and allowed Sain Calvados and Petit Mouchoir to set a breakneck pace that neither could ultimately sustain. The highly-talented six-year-old is an exciting prospect for next year's Champion Chase.
Anyway, back to this afternoon's action and for those of you looking for horses at decent prices, take note of my two each-way hopefuls, Mount Mews (2.50) and Act of Valour (4.50).