On the back of the first opening day to start on heavy ground since 1982, the Irish contingent will be confident that the Gordon Elliott trained Samcro can get day two off to a winning start in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle. However, the mount of Jack Kennedy is likely to be one of the shortest price favourites of the festival.
The Gigginstown owned six-year-old is held in the highest regard by his trainer and speaking about Samcro in September Festival winning jockey, Lisa O’Neill said: “I wouldn’t say it too often but this one is a bit of an aeroplane”. The Kerry National winning jockey was aboard when he won a Fairyhouse in April 2017.
Another comprehensive victory at the Dublin Racing Festival last month ensured the preservation of his 100% career record having previously impressed in the point-to-point sphere. His latest 5 ½ length victory saw him finish ahead of some useful sort with Supreme Novice Hurdle runner, Paloma Blue and Galway Festival victor Whiskey Sour among those left in his wake.
Prior to the injury-enforced withdrawal of On The Blindside from the race on Sunday. the Nicky Henderson raider looked the most likely to serve it up to the favourite having had 9 ½ lengths to spare in victory last time out in a grade 2 at Sandown.
Of those now tasked with springing a shock in the race, it is the Willie Mullins-trained Next Destination who is deemed most likely to do so in accordance with the betting. The Malcolm Denmark owned six-year-old finished fourth behind the tragic Fayonagh is the Champion Chase at the festival last year and has been foot perfect in his three starts hurdles this term. He got the better of some useful opposition in those races, beating both Jetz and Cracking Smart on heavy ground at Naas in December before franking that form on heavy in mid-January. He’s been sent ever so slightly up in trip for Wednesday’s encounter.
On the back of Summerville Boy’s game success in the opening race of the festival, Tom George will be hopeful Black Op can give a good account of himself in the day 2 opener. Having run well in his maiden appearance at graded level, at this venue on Festival Trials Day in January on heavy ground, the conditions would appear to his liking. He found one too good for him on that occasion and while that may well prove to be the case again here, he may well be the value bet of the race with some firms still offering 10/1.
Of the others, the Collin Tizzard trained, Vision Des Flow appears to relish heavy conditions and comes into the races on the back of a 31 length success at Exeter last month. Currently a 16/1 chance, he is likely to attract his fair share of each-way support before the off.