Gordon Elliott's Samcro To Be Aimed At Punchestown Champion Hurdle Glory
It has emerged that Gordon Elliott’s precocious hurdler Samcro will step up from novice company to contest the Punchestown Champion Hurdle on day four of the festival at the course on Friday.
The winner of the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle at last month’s Cheltenham Festival, Samcro had held entries in the three novice hurdles in the festival, too, but connections will ask him to take on his elders in open company instead.
The reasoning for that may well be the ongoing tug-of-war between his trainer Gordon Elliott and Willie Mullins over the trainers’ championship title.
Samcro will give Elliott an ace in his pack as he tackles the €162,250 prize on offer at 17:30 on Friday. He’ll be joined by The Game Changer for the same owner/trainer team in a field of eight.
Mullins’ will send his Cheltenham Champion Hurdle second Melon, as well as the mercurial Wicklow Brave and has four others declared at this stage.
Debate has raged this week over who would go off favourite for the race in the event that Samcro would line up - the much-hyped novice or the proven Melon, who took his form to a fine level when just being touched off by Buveur D’Air at the festival.
It’s the Elliott horse that’s been made favourite in the Ante-Post markets and, remarkably, is around the 5/6 shot at the time of writing. Mullins’ best chance in the race is out at 5/2 with Wicklow Brave, winner of the race last year, out at a lofty 10/1.