Thursday 17 October 2019

Elliott's Samcro call for Cheltenham

Trainer Gordon Elliott. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile
Trainer Gordon Elliott. Photo: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Thomas Kelly

Gordon Elliott will decide tomorrow whether Samcro will run at the Cheltenham Festival.

The much talked about seven-year-old looked every inch a superstar in the making when living up to the hype in the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle 12 months ago, but things have not gone to plan since.

He fell at Punchestown following Cheltenham last year and he has met with defeat in his three outings to date this season after connections opted to give him a Champion Hurdle campaign.

His first reverse came at Down Royal in November, before finding Buveur D'Air too good at Newcastle and disappointing when only fifth as the 6/4 favourite in the Ryanair Hurdle at Leopardstown.

He was found to be suffering from a lung infection subsequent to that Leopardstown run and plans for the rest of the season were put on hold as a result.

Reports in recent weeks have been more upbeat, however, and Elliott said yesterday: "Samcro will gallop on Tuesday and I'll know what we are going to do then. All of our Cheltenham horses will gallop on Tuesday."

Meanwhile, Nicky Henderson was delighted with Might Bite, Santini and On The Blind Side as three members of his powerful team for Cheltenham enjoyed a schooling session at Newbury yesterday.

The Seven Barrows trainer got some much-needed practice into the staying chase trio ahead of the Festival and was relieved to see conditions had turned soft after overnight rain.

"I took my horse out of the bumper (on Saturday's card) as I thought the ground was too quick, but it was soft this morning after the rain last night," Henderson said.

"They all jumped 10 fences and then just had a spin up the straight. It was great. I needed to get something into them - especially Santini and On The Blind Side."

Might Bite, which will be attempting to go one better in the Cheltenham Gold Cup than 12 months ago, has not fired in two runs (Betfair Chase and King George) this season.

However, Henderson insisted: "Might Bite is in very good order. His work has been very good the last couple of weeks and today was great.

"He's in great shape. We tinkered with his wind again and it usually does help them when you do that."

Santini and On The Blind Side are both set to take part in the Novices' Chase, with Santini the 3/1 ante-post favourite.

Henderson added: "Santini was good. I would have liked to have run in the Reynoldstown at Ascot but we were forced out of that.

"He's a big horse. He does take quite a lot of work so we've had to press a little bit and today was a big step forward. He won't need to do an awful lot more now."

Santini made a winning debut over the bigger obstacles at Newbury and was not disgraced when third to La Bague Au Roi in the Kauto Star Novices' Chase at Kempton.

Irish Independent

The Left Wing: Welcome to Irish rugby's biggest week - is an upset on the cards?

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport