GO AGAINST THE CROWD AND GET WITH SAMCRO FOR THE CHAMPION HURDLE
Let’s turn back the clock three years to November 2015, and a seven year old son of Germany is 1/6F to win first time up at Punchestown. He duly loses, and his credentials are questioned by all and sundry. That horse was of course Faugheen who went down to multiple Grade 1 winner Nichols Canyon in that Morgiana Hurdle before putting up the best hurdle performance of the last decade when winning the Irish Champion Hurdle two starts later.
I mention that race as I can’t help but feel history is set to repeat itself as another son of Germany, SAMCRO (170) has just been defeated at long odds-on on his first start. Similarly to Faugheen, his run is being dismissed, but just like Faugheen’s Morgiana run it was blistering on the clock. Faugheen was thought to need the run in that Morgiana, but the time that day was sensational. Now three years later, everyone is disappointed by Samcro, but on the clock his run was every bit as sensational!
Let’s look at how it breaks down in comparison to the other races on the card
|First Approach||Sancta Simona||Bedrock||Brosna George|
|To 4 out||133.6||133.22||128.65||135.27|
As you can see from the above, BEDROCK (167) clocked the best time for every breakdown – to four out he was 4.57s quicker than the next best Sancta Simona, and from there to the line he was still 2.06s quicker and did so carrying 9lbs more in weight than the Grade 3 winner. Even when I compare the time with the longer races on the card and adjust accordingly, I still reach the same massive figure.
Now the winner has been sold to race in America, we are left to focus on the illustrious runner-up. He was giving 5lbs to the race-fit winner, and comes out running a huge number himself (coincidentally exactly the same figure I gave Faugheen when he was second in the Morgiana!).
It usually pays in this game to go against the consensus view, and having been dead against him staying over hurdles and everyone convinced he was a Champion Hurdle sure thing, I am now pleased to say that the views of myself and the herd have flipped entirely! The herd now want him to go chasing, and I’m now sure he will leave all before him in the Champion Hurdle division and rival Faugheen’s performance in the Irish Champion when it comes around. Running this sort of figure on his first start over hurdles marks him down as the superstar we all know he is, and giving 5lbs to a race-fit rapidly improving horse under such conditions should by no means be dismissed.
Look at it another way, without Bedrock in the race he’s beaten SHARJAH (156) five lengths and given him 8lbs! I can only hope that Bedrock’s connections got a king’s ransom for him, as they have given up a legitimate Champion Hurdle horse, with the potential to run in big races on the flat – they won’t get another one like him in a hurry!
QUICK LOOK AT THE TOP NOVICES SO FAR
With the ground yet to facilitate many horses coming out to run so far, there haven’t been too many performances of note, but I’ll highlight the top three novices I’ve rated so far – two of them trained by Olly Murphy!
Top of the tree so far is QUICK GRABIM (150) who ran on the same card as the aforementioned Bedrock at Tipperary in October. He clocked a good time in his own right when winning the Grade 3 Novice Hurdle on the card and his form has been backed up with Pearl Of The West winning at Cheltenham.
Cheltenham is where we saw the second best novice so far in THOMAS DARBY (148), he clocked a time 3.38s quicker than handicap blot Storm Rising did over the same course and distance and looks a lovely prospect for connections.
Olly Murphy also has another top prospect on his hand in ITCHY FEET (147) who clocked an excellent time in a hot listed race at Kempton. He was just 0.24s slower than Verdana Blue was over the same course and distance, but carried 7lbs more, and is duly put in at No.3 in the novice hurdle tree.
Last years novices were a red hot crop…it’ll be interesting to see if anything comes out to usurp these three soon!