Samcro returned to winning form with a tenacious success in the Grade Three An Riocht Chase at Killarney.
Dual Cheltenham Festival hero Samcro has been out of sorts in just three starts since his thrilling 2020 Marsh Novices’ Chase victory.
But Gigginstown House Stud’s nine-year-old – pulled up in his last two races, both at Grade One level – was back to somewhere near his best as he pounced on the front-running Cilaos Emery after the final fence to win by a neck under Jack Kennedy for trainer Denise Foster.
Samcro was conceding weight all round and drifted out to a starting price of 6-1.
But he showed his well-being as he stuck close to the pace set by Cilaos Emery throughout, and then would not be denied in a stirring finish – while Peregrine Run, bidding to win this race for a third successive time, had to settle for third, seven lengths further adrift after a mistake at the last.
Kennedy, who also won the Grade One Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at the 2018 Festival on Samcro, was full of praise for his rejuvenated partner.
“He battled very well, was very tough – and we haven’t seen that since he won the Marsh Chase in Cheltenham,” he said.
“It is great to see it.
“He came off the bridle early in the straight but he stuck at it very well.
“The ground is nearly yielding on the chase course, and I think better ground could suit him better again.”
Samcro may therefore remain busy in the coming months – including a possible bid for the Galway Plate.
Kennedy added: “I think he could have a nice summer campaign on good ground – that’s the ground he wants.
“He beat a good horse today, and it is great to see him back.
“The Galway Plate could be an option – but we’ll take it from here and see how we get on.”