The Cheltenham Festival is three months away but anticipation, excitement and intrigue is already building up around the world’s greatest jump racing festival. Many pundits are picking out horses to follow for Cheltenham already, and one horse that both pundits and punters are jumping on the back of is Samcro. He has done nothing but impress this season, and could well come across as the Irish banker for the entire meeting, such is his quality and weight of money already behind him.
It was on his first start of the season where Samcro gained huge praise and quotes for the Cheltenham Festival, and since then the frenzy surrounding him has multiplied. He won by 15 lengths that day and couldn’t have been more impressive in his first public workout over hurdles. After winning three flat races last season there was an expectation on the back of Samcro going into his first start over hurdles, but the way he won that first start got the attention of everyone.
Since then he has won another race, a Grade 3 hurdle, winning that by 12 lengths to demolish a decent field, adding excitement to the already bubbling crowd of people who are following this horse. He looks set to have one, possibly two more runs before the Cheltenham Festival and should he win those then he looks highly likely to be the Cheltenham Festival banker for those heading over from Ireland.
The bookmakers have been quick to keep ahead of Samcro, they have a feel for just how good he may be, and they have seen waves of punters side with him, even though the Festival is three months away. The Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle looks to be the ideal race for him and looking at Oddschecker he is best priced 2/1 favourite for that race. It would be extraordinary for him to go even lower than that price before the festival, but if he continues to impress then who knows what will happen, this is potentially a very special horse.
One person who thinks he could go all the way to the top is leading Irish amateur jockey, Barry O’Neill. He has seen many horses during his time as a point to point rider and rates Samcro as a future Gold Cup winner, so he clearly saw something special on the day he rode him to a point to point success. While he will run over hurdles this season, he clearly looks to be a chaser in the making and over the next few years we will hopefully see him progress and contend for Gold Cups.
The future certainly looks bright for Samcro, he has already been very well backed for the Cheltenham Festival and the majority of punters will be thrilled if he manages to land the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle in March. We still have some time to wait before that takes place, but already the excitement is building, we could have an exceptionally talented animal heading to the Festival in 2018.