Tag Archive for: Samcro

Samcro has weighty task in Galway Plate

Samcro will have to defy top weight if he is to win the tote Galway Plate.

The nine-year-old is a dual Cheltenham Festival winner, but consistency has not been his strong point over the last two years.

Winner of a Grade Three at Killarney in May, he failed to back that up at Listowel next time out.

Samcro’s weight will be eased slightly on Wednesday – because he will be ridden by Jordan Gainford, who can claim 5lb.

His trainer Denise Foster also runs Battleoverdoyen.

Willie Mullins is well represented in the famous handicap by Easy Game (Bryan Cooper), Brahma Bull (Jack Foley), Royal Rendezvous (Paul Townend), Annamix (Patrick Mullins), Livelovelaugh (Sean O’Keeffe) and Koshari (Brian Hayes).

Owner JP McManus has five runners – Emmet Mullins’ versatile eight-year-old The Shunter, Joseph O’Brien’s Darasso and Top Moon, Off You Go, now in the care of Cathal Byrnes, and Enda Bolger’s Modus, formerly trained by Paul Nicholls.

McManus also has two of the three reserves, A Wave Of The Sea and Everlastingpromise.

The last horse to make the current cut in the field of 22 was Henry de Bromhead’s Somptueux. De Bromhead also runs Visioman.

Top weight Samcro has Plate target

Samcro has been allotted top weight in the Tote Galway Plate – with dual Grand National hero and “speculative entry” Tiger Roll 3lb lower.

Both horses are currently in the care of Denise Foster, having been trained to major victories by Gordon Elliott.

Samcro is a dual Cheltenham Festival winner – while Tiger Roll registered his back-to-back Grand Nationals in 2018 and 2019, and has also posted five Festival victories.

The July 28 highlight of this year’s Galway Festival has long been Samcro’s aim, but whether Tiger Roll joins him there has yet to be decided.

Tiger Roll was given only a
Tiger Roll was given only a “speculative” entry in the Galway Plate (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

The 11-year-old dished out the perfect riposte to those who were saying he should have been retired, following a listless run over hurdles, when he won the Cross Country Chase at Cheltenham in March for the third time.

However, rather than running him in the Grand National in pursuit of a third victory to emulate Red Rum, connections decided he had too much weight and instead sent him to Aintree’s Grade One Bowl instead – in which he finished a distant fourth.

“It’s been the plan all summer to run Samcro – we assumed he’d have top weight,” said Eddie O’Leary, racing manager for Gigginstown House Stud who own both horses, along with another Galway possible Battleoverdoyen.

“It’s the plan with Samcro and if he’s ok he’ll run. It was only a speculative entry for Tiger Roll.

“It was great to see Samcro win at Killarney. He was then beaten at Listowel, but he hadn’t been trained for that race.

“We only ran him there because he looked well in for it, but he hadn’t been trained for it. We probably shouldn’t have run him – we were tempted into running him.

“I hope all is well, because it’s been the plan all along.

“Battleoverdoyen is a classy horse too, but it’s all about his wind these days.”

Petit Mouchoir has top weight in the Galway Hurdle
Petit Mouchoir has top weight in the Galway Hurdle (PA Wire)

Willie Mullins has the likes of Easy Game (11st 9lb), Brahma Bull (11st 6lb) and Royal Rendezvous (11st 5lb) towards the top of the weights in the Plate – while his nephew Emmet could run The Shunter (11st 4lb).

In the Guinness Galway Hurdle, two days later, Foster’s Petit Mouchoir and Willie Mullins’ Saldier are joint top-weights on 11st 10lb.

Norman Lee’s Sole Pretender is next in on 11st 5lb – while a rare UK-trained possible, Neil Mulholland’s Milkwood, winner of the Scottish Champion Hurdle, currently has 11st 2lb to carry.

Cheltenham and Aintree winner Belfast Banter (10st 13lb), 2020 Triumph Hurdle winner Burning Victory (10st 12lb) and Olly Murphy’s Swinton Hurdle hero Copperless (10st 9lb) are others to consider.

Former Galway Plate and Hurdle-winning jockey Robbie Power will not be fit to ride at this year’s showpiece meeting.

Power posted on Twitter: “Unfortunately I have to undergo surgery this week on an old back injury and won’t be fit for next week’s Galway Festival. Disappointing but hopefully will be back in September in time for Listowel.”

Darasso on a roll as Samcro fails to fire at Listowel

Dual Cheltenham Festival winner Samcro failed to fire as Darasso continued his resurgence with a clear-cut victory in the John J. Galvin Chase at Listowel.

A winner at Graded level over hurdles and fences, Joseph O’Brien’s Darasso endured a largely disappointing campaign last season.

However, having bounced back to winning ways in a conditions hurdle at Killarney last month, the JP McManus-owned eight-year-old followed up back over the larger obstacles in County Kerry.

Ridden by Luke Dempsey, the 11-2 shot jumped well on the whole – and a slight mistake at the final obstacle was not enough to stop him scoring comfortably by seven lengths from Snow Falcon.

Dempsey said: “He is a good horse and did it nicely.

“I was eager enough to get ahead of (leader) Abbey Magic, who was jumping right – and the loose horse wasn’t helping me either.

“He was long at the last, but came up for me – and in fairness once he had hit the front he did it well in the end.

“It was a good performance.”

Denise Foster’s Samcro was the 11-4 favourite, after winning a Grade Three chase at Killarney four weeks ago, but was ultimately well beaten in sixth place.

Favourite backers were rewarded in the preceding Bryan MacMahon Handicap Hurdle, with Mark Fahey’s 100-30 chance Place Des Vosges landing the 21,000 euro feature by eight lengths in the hands of Mark Bolger.

Fahey said: “It was her first time over three miles, and you don’t know unless you try it. Mark gave her a great ride.

“I’ve had her a year and a half, and the only time she finished out of the money was when she fell one day at Fairyhouse.

“She is very consistent. It is a nice pot to win, and I’m delighted for her owners Liam and Carol Rooney, who are part of the syndicate. It is nice for them to come down here today and lead her in.

“There is a two-mile handicap for her at the Derby weekend, and she might go there.”

David Christie has next year’s Grand National meeting at Aintree on his radar for Winged Leader, following the odds-on favourite’s four-and-a-quarter-length triumph in the Join The Listowel Races Supporters Club Hunters Chase under Barry O’Neill.

Christie said: “He is a fine horse, and we were all set to go to Stratford with him, but he got injured on the walker and cut his leg and bruised himself. I thought that would be it, so we’ve had a job getting him back to here.

“He is going out on the grass this week, and next season I think I’ll aim him at Aintree (Foxhunters’ Chase). Aintree takes a horse that stays, but has the gallop to go two and a half miles.

“He goes on any ground, is only seven and is by Winged Love – and they are late developers, so you’d be hoping there is more to come.”

Rejuvenated Samcro on target for Galway Plate

Samcro is being aimed at the Tote Galway Plate on July 28 after returning to winning ways at Killarney recently.

It was the talented nine-year-old’s first success since the Grade One Marsh Novices’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March 2020.

His races in between had been limited to three, being pulled up in two of them – and connections of the Denise ‘Sneezy’ Foster-trained gelding believe a summer campaign could be more beneficial to Samcro, as Eddie O’Leary, racing manager for owners Gigginstown House Stud, explained.

“His summer plan will be the Galway Plate. We hope he has a healthier summer and hopefully his problems, scoping bad or his sinuses, will be helped,” he said.

“We just hope that being able to train during the summer he might have a healthier summer.

“We were all happy with his run the last day. The tight track wouldn’t have suited him, but he showed a lot of determination. Hopefully the next day we’ll see a bit of the old sparkle as well.

“The Plate will be his summer target. I don’t think there will be a race in between it, unless Sneezy has other options for him.”

Meanwhile, Tiger Roll, Gigginstown’s dual Grand National hero and five-time Cheltenham Festival winner, is enjoying a summer holiday.

The 11-year-old was last seen finishing distant fourth to Clan Des Obeaux in the Betway Bowl at Aintree in April.

Tiger Roll is enjoying a summer out at grass
Tiger Roll is enjoying a summer out at grass (David Davies/Jockey Club)

The owners ran him in the Grade One rather than bid for a record-equalling third Grand National as they were not happy with his handicap mark.

“He’s great, getting fat out in the field as is his wont,” said O’Leary.

“He’s in great form. We were disappointed, but not surprised, the handicapper didn’t reassess him downwards after Aintree.

“The plan is he’ll have to go back to the UK for a couple of more races at the back end, which is not his time of the year, and we’ll have the same carry on with the handicapper about his ridiculous rating.

“My point is we’ve been in racing for 20 years and never queried the rating of a horse. We’ve never complained over a handicap rating ever, except Tiger Roll.

“He won’t go for the National unless he’s given a chance. We don’t want to be forced into retiring him.”

Samcro back in business with Killarney victory

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.”

Elliott reports Cheltenham Festival team in good shape

Gordon Elliott has issued an upbeat report on several of his stable stars, with the Cheltenham Festival now only four weeks away.

While big rival Willie Mullins dominated the recent Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown with a staggering eight winners in two days, Elliott decided to keep his powder dry for next month’s showpiece meeting in the Cotswolds with his a number of his biggest guns.

The star of the squad is the unbeaten Envoi Allen, who having already won the Champion Bumper and the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle, is a red-hot favourite to complete a Festival hat-trick in the Marsh Novices’ Chase.

The seven-year-old was last seen making it three from three over fences at Punchestown in January.

Envoi Allen is already a dual Cheltenham Festival winner
Envoi Allen is already a dual Cheltenham Festival winner (Andrew Matthews/PA)

“Envoi Allen is in good form,” Elliott told Sky Sports Racing.

“He’s horse who’ll only ever do what he has to do, but he keeps winning and once he keeps doing that, I don’t mind.”

Another horse who has yet to taste defeat since joining Elliott is Triumph Hurdle favourite Zanahiyr.

Following the Grade One success of stable companion Quilixios at Leopardstown, some suggested Zanahiyr could take on his elders in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham, leaving Quilixios to run in the Triumph.

Elliott, however, has quashed that theory, saying: “Zanahiyr is in great form. I don’t know where all the talk of him running in the Supreme came from – I never even suggested it to anyone.

“We gave him an entry to keep our options open, but I took him out of it and he’s definitely going to go for the Triumph.”

Quilixios was an impressive winner at Leopardstown
Quilixios was an impressive winner at Leopardstown (Niall Carson/PA)

Another Cheltenham-bound runner for whom the Cullentra handler holds high hopes is Galvin, who has purposely been kept fresh for the National Hunt Chase since winning at Prestbury Park in October.

Elliott is keeping his fingers crossed Jamie Codd will be able to ride, with all amateurs currently unable to ride under rules due to coronavirus restrictions.

“Galvin has had a break and will go straight to Cheltenham,” Elliott added.

“He’s got loads of experience and was second in Cheltenham last year over fences. He’s also won there, so he’s got loads of experience around the track, which is a massive help.

“We don’t know if the amateurs are going to be able to ride or not. If they are, that will be a massive game changer for us as you have half a stone up your sleeve straight away when you’ve got one of the good Irish fellas riding.

“Time will tell whether they’ll be able to ride or not, but for them I hope they can, because it’s not nice for them to miss the Festival.”

Samcro can be brilliant at his best
Samcro can be brilliant at his best (David Davies/PA)

Whether Samcro will be part of Elliott’s Cheltenham squad remains uncertain.

The nine-year-old has won the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle and the Marsh Novices’ Chase at the Festival, but was pulled up on his latest outing in the Savills Chase at Leopardstown in December.

Elliott said: “Samcro is entered at the weekend (Red Mills Chase at Gowran Park), (but) again the ground will be the worry.

“We’ll probably look at something like the Ryanair Chase with him, but he’s not easy to train.

“He’s very hot and cold – when he’s good he’s good and when he’s bad he’s very bad.”

Elliott seeking new opportunities for Savills Chase trio

Gordon Elliott plans to give Delta Work, Presenting Percy and Samcro the opportunity to bounce back before the Cheltenham Festival after failing to run up to expectations in last week’s Savills Chase.

Delta Work was the defending champion in the Grade One contest, while Presenting Percy had looked back to his best in beating Kemboy and Monalee in a Listed contest at Thurles in November.

Hopes were also high for dual Cheltenham winner Samcro on his first appearance over three miles since his point-to-point days.

However, Delta Work unseated jockey Sean Flanagan at the ninth fence, Presenting Percy finished a well-beaten eighth and Samcro was pulled up before the second fence from the finish.

Samcro (left) disappointed at Leopardstown
Samcro (left) disappointed at Leopardstown (Tim Goode/PA)

Elliott said: “They are all back riding out, but each will have to have one run before a possible run in Cheltenham.

“There are options like the Irish Gold Cup, the Kinloch Brae Chase at Thurles and a few other races for them, but they’ll have to run between now and Cheltenham.”

The Cullentra handler went on to confirm the death of high-class grey Labaik.

The nine-year-old effectively refused to start in three successive races before winning the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the 2017 Cheltenham Festival, under a then-17-year-old Jack Kennedy.

He ran twice at Punchestown the following month, including a fourth-placed finish in the Punchestown Champion Hurdle on what proved to be his final career start.

“Labaik died of a colic two or three months ago here in the yard,” Elliott added.

“It has been reported (on social media) he sustained a cut to a leg and was put down, which wasn’t true. He wasn’t being ridden out and had been retired.

“He won a Supreme Novice Hurdle for us, was very talented and a very good horse.”

Leopardstown set to serve up Savills cracker

What looks set to be one of the races of the season so far is in prospect at Leopardstown on Monday, with a field of 14 declared for the Savills Chase.

The three-mile feature sees any number of Gold Cup contenders in action, with the Henry de Bromhead-trained Minella Indo favourite to stretch his unbeaten record over fences to three in the hands of Rachael Blackmore.

But dangers abound, including the Gordon Elliott-trained trio of Samcro, Presenting Percy and Delta Work – who bids to defend his crown under Jack Kennedy.

Willie Mullins has a team of five – featuring 2018 winner Kemboy, Allaho, Easy Game, Melon and Tornado Flyer.

De Bromhead also runs A Plus Tard and Balko Des Flos, with Joseph O’Brien saddling Fakir D’oudairies and Jessica Harrington sending out Jett.

Noel Meade’s Tout Est Permis completes the high-class line-up.

Elliott considering options for Samcro

Gordon Elliott has two options in mind for Samcro having decided the ground was too testing in the John Durkan Memorial Chase at Punchestown on Sunday.

The dual Cheltenham Festival winner had to settle for third on his seasonal return behind stablemate Battleoverdoyen at Down Royal.

The two were due to meet again, with Jack Kennedy preferring Samcro at Punchestown, but on the morning of the race Elliott withdrew Samcro and Battleoverdoyen ultimately disappointed in the fog that shrouded the track.

Samcro could now step up to three miles at Leopardstown at Christmas, or run at Thurles in the Kinloch Brae Chase.

“We might look at Leopardstown at Christmas for the Savills Chase – the ground could be better there,” said Elliott.

“The Kinloch Brae at Thurles is another option.”