Dual Grade 1 and Cheltenham Festival winner Samcro could only finish second on his seasonal reappearance in the Grade 2 WKD Hurdle at Down Royal. Following much deliberation, his connections decided to keep the former pointer over hurdles and aim him at the Champion Hurdle next spring. The six year old was expected to dispose of his three rivals at the Northern Ireland track with the minimum of fuss but it was apparent after the second last that Jack Kennedy's mount was going to have to work harder than expected to prevail and he found the 149 rated Bedrock too strong on the run-in. A length and a half separated the pair. Samcro was conceding five pounds to his race fit rival but, even allowing for that, it was disappointing that he couldn't pass this test. Gordon Elliott believes he will improve for the run and slower ground in the Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown later this month will suit. However, prior to today, his first time out record was 111 - he has always run very well when fresh. On this evidence, Samcro doesn't look a Champion Hurdle winner in waiting.
I am working at Wetherby tomorrow with the Grade 2 Charlie Hall Chase being the feature. Unfortunately, following some decent renewals in recent years with the likes of Silviniaco Conti, Cue Card and Bristol De Mai winning, the 2018 version isn't up to scratch with only four horses due to line up. It will be the smallest field since See More Business won the race for a second time in 2000. The dry weather has meant the ground is currently good, good to firm in places, which has ruled out the likes of the aforementioned Bristol De Mai and former King George winner Thistlecrack.
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