Faugheen a real fairytale, but hard to stop Samcro
He's back and it's like he was never away. Faugheen finally roared back to life with a vengeance after showing all the energy of a boa constrictor who's just swallowed a goat in his previous three runs.
Once 'The Machine' was back, this was no longer a contest, it was McGregor in a schoolyard brawl. From the off this was the real Faugheen, the one who made us gasp with wonder and awe before. He attacked his hurdles and carried David everywhere.
The trip is the obvious change, but for me he would have won at two miles yesterday. For whatever reason, the track perhaps, he turned up yesterday like he hasn't since the Morgiana.
The reaction of the crowd afterwards had that feeling of when you bump into an old friend in a room full of strangers. Everyone seemed genuinely thrilled to see him back to his best.
You don't always get fairytale endings in life or sport, but this was definitely one. It would have, been awful to see him limp out of the limelight, a shadow of himself.
It was fabulous for owner Rich Ricci to get a winner after Douvan and Djakadam whacking the crossbar in the big races on the first two days. And his groom, John Codd, deserves special mention for his sterling work with him at home.
Footpad put in another spectacular round of fencing. He springs like a gazelle over his jumps and some of his leaps were extraordinary to watch. He is like Un De Sceaux, in that he absolutely loves his job - you can actually feel the joy he gets from doing it. I can't wait for next season with him.
And now we approach the climax. Gordon and the Gigginstown team have decided to put their ace of diamonds on the table in the hope they can pull a royal flush out of a dwindling deck. Samcro steps out of novice company and takes on all-comers in the Betdaq Champion Hurdle. It's a bold move indeed.
This exciting novice has looked invincible thus far in his career but always in restricted company. This is his first time in open company but, while full of admirable performers, it looks far from a vintage field.
Even without the Championship at stake, I think this is a good move. If he wins, they know they have a Champion Hurdle horse if they so wish. If he doesn't, then chasing beckons.
From what we have seen to date, he wins races in a matter of strides and I think he will take all the beating today. Gordon still has Farclas and the mighty Apple's Jade to play on Saturday so if Samcro does collect, the game is still afoot.
We send five to try and beat him. Melon was only just touched off by Buveur D'Air in the Champion Hurdle in Cheltenham. I'm not convinced that was the finest Champion ever run, I have question marks over Mick Jazz and Identity Thief finishing so close, but he is improving and sets a high standard for Samcro to match.
I team up with Wicklow Brave again and we will attempt to keep our title from last year where he blitzed the field with an electric round of precision jumping.
I was disappointed with him in Cheltenham but he never seems to run to his best on the Old Course there. His Cheltenham victory came on the New Course. He runs well here, winning this last year but also finishing third to Nichols Canyon and Faugheen in a Morgiana.
That form is the best on offer but the trouble with Wicklow is that he has Pogba-like tendencies to be hot and cold. And his sportsmanlike habit of giving the others a ten-length head start can be a slight nuisance at times.
4.20 Up For Review
7.10 Deal D'Estruval