Gigginstown House Stud rider Jack Kenndey has not lost faith in Samcro following a desperately disappointing campaign last season.
The Gordon Elliott trained seven-year-old looked to have the world at his feet when landing the 2m 5f Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at the 2018 Cheltenham Festival where he only needed driving out up the run-in for a comfortable 2 3/4 lengths success over Black Op. Samcro then took on his elders for the first time in the Grade 1 Punchestown Champion Hurdle, but fell three from home three from home when closing and yet to be asked any serious sort of question by Kennedy.
Connections then somewhat surprisingly decided to keep the strapping son of Germany to hurdles rather than go down the chasing route. After failing to sparkle to shine when dropped back in class on return to action at Down Royal a 1 1/2 length runner-up to Bedrock in the Grade 2 WKD Hurdle, Samcro got hammered eight length by Buveur D’air in the Grade 1 Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle.
Samcro then bombed out when a well beaten fourth in the Grade 1 Ryanair Hurdle at Leopardstown over the Christmas period and after a number of niggling injuries Elliott decided to to pull up stumps and and put him away for the 2019/20 season.
Chasing the Plan This Time Around
Kennedy told the Racing Post: “There was something amiss with Samcro last season, it was very annoying, but I’m sure you will see the real Samcro this season.
“I haven’t schooled him over fences yet but I’d imagine he will be a natural and he’s definitely one to really look forward to. I haven’t lost faith in him anyway.”
He added: “You could say there are some similarities between Samcro and Don Cossack as it took Don Cossack a year or two to deliver on his early promise. If Samcro turns out to be even half as good as Don Cossack we will all be delighted.” Samcro is currently 16/1 with Ladbrokes for the 2m 4f JLT Novices Chase at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival and 25/1 with Coral for the RSA over 3m.
He is not devoid of speed or stamina, so should all got to plan it will be interesting to see which race connections plump for.
Sweet on Apples Jade and Battleoverdoyen
Apple’s Jade, who finished runner-up in the Triumph Hurdle at the 2017 Cheltenham Festival before going one better to land the Grade 1 Mares’ Hurdle 1 months later, is another that Kenndey is looking forward to being reunited with in the 2019/20 season. He said: “She has been unbelievable. She’s an incredible mare and doesn’t owe anybody anything. The races she takes in at the start of each season seem to suit her and hopefully she can do something similar to last year when she returns.”
Battleoverdoyen failed to shine when pulled-up in the Grade 1 Ballmore Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival back in March, but had previously won all his four starts in the manner of a very exciting prospect. He is another that Kennedy is hoping cam live up to his big home reputation.
“Battleoverdoyen did very well last year and wasn’t himself at Cheltenham.,” he said. “I’m looking forward to getting back on him. He’s a lovely horse.”
Edwulf to Have Sights Lowered After Joining Bolger
Edwulf, who won the Irish Gold Cup after nearly dying, is the latest high profile JP McManus owned horse to join trainer Enda Bolger and looks a fascinating recruit to the hunter chasing ranks.
The 10-year-old, formerly trained by Joseph O’Brien, almost died at the Cheltenham Festival in 2017 when he collapsed in the closing stages of the four-mile National Hunt Chase won by dual Grand National hero Tiger Roll.
On his second run back following that drama, Edwulf stormed home under Derek O’Connor to land the Grade 1 Leopardstown event under Derek O’Connorby a neck from Outlander. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house following the emotional success and McManus and the team were quick to pay tribute to the swift action of Cheltenham’s medical team in saving his life.
Edwulf has had just five starts since and was last seen in action in the Grade 2 Red Mills Chase at Gowran Park back in February when finishing a well-beaten 27 length third of four to Monalee. However, having been rated 165 at his peak, the son of Kayf Tara is set to have his sights lowered having been campaigned at the highest level for most of his career.
Bolger, known as the King Of The Banks due to his domination in Cross Country Chases, has been granted a hunters certificate for Edwulf and will start him off in point-to-points.
He told the Racing Post said: “Edwulf has been with us for about six weeks. He’s got a hunters certificate and while there are no plans as such, we’ll probably be looking at running him in point-to-points depending on how he is. We’ll see how things go.”
Joint-Favourite for Foxhunters Chase
If things go to plan, then there are two possible targets for Edwulf at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival.
He could go down the Cross Country Chase route which would seem him clash with dual Aintree Grand National Tiger Roll who is bidding for a hat-trick of successes in the contest. Edwulf is a top priced 16/1 with Paddy Power for that race, but the Foxhunters Chase would appeals as a more suitable test in my eyes for him and he is 10/1 joint-favourite with bet365 – along with this year’s winner Hazel Hill.
Other recent high-class McManus horses to join Bolger are former Paul Nicholls inmate Movewiththetimes and Alan King’s dual Grade 1 winner Yanworth, who finished runner-up to Yorkhill in the Grade 1 Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle at the 2018 Cheltenham Festival.