Samcro in line for return to save season as Elliott eyes National
It's been a disastrous campaign for all associated with Samcro but Gordon Elliott's seven-year-old may bid to save his season in the Grade Two Keelings Irish Strawberry Hurdle at Fairyhouse on Easter Monday.
With Elliott delaying his switch to fences until next season, big things were expected after Samcro's impressive display when landing last year's Ballymore but four successive defeats have tempered expectations.
A lung infection was found to have contributed to his sub-par displays this season and he was on the easy list for a number of weeks but the Meath trainer is happy with his fitness ahead of a possible return.
"We've just gone steadily with Samcro over the last couple of months. He has missed Cheltenham and Aintree, but he's in good shape and going well at home," Elliott said this week.
"So there's a chance we could see him before the end of the season. We'll just see how he is over the next week and then make a decision on where to go with him or just leave him be to go chasing next season."
It's an important few days for the Cullentra handler as he bids to close the €525,000 deficit to Willie Mullins in the trainers' championship race and he holds 17 of the 63 remaining entries as he searches for back-to-back glory in Monday's BoyleSports Irish Grand National.
His charge in the €500,000 showpiece will be led by last year's winner General Principle (20/1) while Jury Duty (10/1), Folsom Blue (20/1) and Shattered Love (20/1) are also expected to take their chance
Champion trainer Mullins has nine contenders as he eyes his first victory in the race and the Closutton team includes last year's runner-up Isleofhopendreams (25/1), Pairofbrowneyes (8/1) and Burrows Saint (10/1).
Noel Meade's Tout Est Permis (10/1) is the highest rated of those remaining while Liam Cusack will be bidding to strike a blow for smaller trainers with Snugsborough Benny (14/1) and the nine-year-old is not without his chance for the Laois trainer.
"His season has gone very well. We were very happy the last day when he won a rated chase at Fairyhouse. I was delighted with the way he jumped and how he went to the line. It was his best performance to date. He came out of the race well and we decided to enter him. He's gone up high enough in the ratings, it's a serious pot to be going for and it's just nice to have a runner in an Irish National," Cusack said.
Meanwhile, dual Champion Hurdle hero Buveur D'Air could make his first appearance on Irish soil in next month's Punchestown Champion Hurdle to set up a rematch with Aintree Hurdle conqueror Supasundae.
Trainer Nicky Henderson said: "He is of an age now that he can do these sort of things and run at Punchestown and if Buveur D'Air tells me in a fortnight that he is in good form, he will hopefully go."