13:30 Cheltenham Wed 14 March 2018
Stays well and is a two-time winner over hurdles (Uttoxeter and Perth), but beaten in a Musselburgh handicap (3m) on New Years Day latest and well out of his depth at this level.
Southwell bumper winner (January 2017) who arrives without a hurdles success to his name (0 from 4). Boasts plenty of experience of this track, but to all intents and purposes looks firmly up against it in this company.
Has shown himself to be an improving young hurdler since landing the odds at Doncaster in early January (2m5f maiden soft). Went down narrowly in a battle with Santini (pair clear) in a Grade 2 2m4f contest here at the Festival trials in January.
Cost €170,000 as a three-year-old, and is unbeaten in four starts so far, making a smooth winning hurdles debut at Thurles in November (2m7f+ heavy). Tricky to assess his true level of ability, but obviously respected given his owner/trainer.
Winner of a low grade Chepstow bumper (2m good to soft) on stable debut in late October, and made a respectable hurdles debut at Leicester in December (2m4f+ soft), but not shown enough to suggest that he's up to this level of competition.
Much better since switched to hurdling with form figures reading (5,1,2). However, that success came in a 2m3f+ Chepstow maiden and whilst he handled the hustle and bustle of a 16-runner field, that's nowhere near good enough for a Grade 1 event.
Beaten in both starts over hurdles, but those were strong efforts in Grade 1 novice events, finishing 4L third to Next Destination (2m4f Naas) and a 5½L runner-up to Samcro over 2m at Leopardstown latest. Place prospects.
Cost £75,000 in June 2017 following a 3m point-to-point debut success. Ran well on all three starts for this stable over hurdles (2m3f to 2m5f), breaking his Rules duck when making all at Doncaster latest, beating Paisley Park by 1¼L.
A winner on his hurdles debut over this trip at Wetherby in early December (soft), beating Game On by 4½L, but beaten 7L (third) by Mr Whipped at Warwick next time out. Most likely to be found wanting at this level.
On an upward curve over hurdles having won two of his last three starts (2m maiden, 2m4f handicap), but plenty more to find in order to tackle this Grade 1 contest, with his likely stamina reserves open to much debate.
Finished 3L fourth to Fayonagh in the 2017 Champion Bumper and unbeaten in three starts over hurdles (2m3f-2m4f), with no obvious issues with the forecast testing ground. Authoritatively downed Cracking Smart/Duc Des Genievres at Naas latest.
Unbeaten, high class novice (6 from 6 under rules) who crosses the Irish Sea for the first time on the back of an ultra impressive Leopardstown success (2m soft). Longer trip to tackle but that shouldn't be a thorny issue. Standout form horse.
75-rated on the Flat (3 from 13), and hasn't raced beyond 2m over hurdles just yet. That said, he looked a strong stayer when a decisive 17L winner of a Gowran Park maiden in January (heavy), and he remains unexposed.
2017 Punchestown bumper winner for Robert Tyner, who was seemingly much improved for wind surgery (tongue tied) when ploughing through the Exeter mud to score by 31L latest (2m1f heavy). Needs to improve again, but ground conditions are favourable.
Last Year's Winner
|T: B PaulingJ: David Bass|
Samcro (8/11), Next Destination (4/1), Black Op (8/1), Duc Des Genievres (10/1), Vision Des Flos (14/1), Brahma Bull (25/1), Scarpeta (33/1), Gowiththeflow (40/1), Mind's Eye (66/1), Aye Aye Charlie (100/1), Coolanly (100/1), Knight In Dubai (100/1), Diablo De Rouhet (200/1), Ahead of The Curve (200/1)
- Next Destination
- Vision Des Flos
WHAT THE TRAINERS SAY
Gordon Elliott - Samcro: "He is an absolute pleasure to train, he just does everything so easy at home and is very obliging and laid back. Unbeaten in his six starts, he always does it well, but obviously this will be the biggest task of his career and he may not find things quite as easy as he has done in recent runs but we are still confident.
"On his latest appearance, dropping back to two miles at Leopardstown, he was again impressive and absolutely loved the ground so will enjoy the current conditions. He is our best chance of the day and I am very much looking forward to him running."
Patrick Mullins - Next Destination: "He ran very well in the Champion Bumper last year so we know he handles the track and the atmosphere of the place, which are big questions marks for Samcro. He has improved again for going over hurdles and he seems to jump very well. The soft ground will make it more of a stamina test, which is probably to his advantage.
"Samcro does set the standard and he deserves to be the price he is, but we are expecting him to give him more of a race than he has had before."
Tom George - Black Op: "He was unlucky last time as he jumped the hurdles nicely, then made a mistake at the last. He stumbled on landing and lost all momentum. He is a strong-travelling horse and he coped with the soft ground last time. He appears to be the best of the British challenge.
"The other thing to his advantage is that is he is a year older than most of them. He has really strengthened up mentally and physically as he is a big, rangy horse Roger Brookhouse has let me take my time with him. He has really strengthened up mentally and physically and it will be nice for Roger to have the chance to reap the rewards."
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