Novice star Samcro set to take Limerick option over Christmas

Apple’s Jade could be retired if failing to fire at Leopardstown

Jack Kennedy on board Samcro. The high-profile novice chaser   got his career over fences off to a perfect start at Down Royal. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Jack Kennedy on board Samcro. The high-profile novice chaser got his career over fences off to a perfect start at Down Royal. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

 

Samcro is set to make his Christmas appearance in Limerick’s Grade One feature on St Stephen’s Day.

The high-profile novice chaser holds top-flight entries at both two and three miles at Leopardstown next week, but instead looks likely to line up over an intermediate trip in the Matchbook Betting Exchange Novice Chase.

“The two and a half at Limerick is the way we’re veering at the moment,” said Eddie O’Leary, spokesman for Gigginstown Stud, on Monday.

Samcro got his career over fences off to a perfect start at Down Royal, but was a faller at the second last fence in the Drinmore Novice Chase, eventually won by Fakir D’oudairieis at Fairyhouse earlier this month.

O’Leary dismissed speculation that Samcro may have gone on to win had he not tipped up. “That doesn’t matter. It’s called jump racing, so well done the victor.”

Like Samcro, Fakir D’oudairies also holds an entry in Leopardstown’s Racing Post Novice Chase over two miles on St Stephen’s Day.

However the prospect of the pair clashing again, possibly with Faugheen in the mix as well, makes Limerick’s contest potentially one of the most eagerly anticipated festive treats.

O’Leary also suggested on Monday that the hugely popular mare Apple’s Jade may be retired if she fails to return to form in her next start.  The 10-time Grade One winner is set to try for hat-trick of wins in the three-mile Leopardstown Christmas Hurdle.

Apple’s Jade has failed to reproduce her best form in two start so far this season. She was third to Honeysuckle in the Hatton’s Grace last time following defeat as a 1-4 favourite in the Lismullen Hurdle at Navan.

“She will go to Leopardstown with headgear on to encourage her and spark her up a little bit. But if it doesn’t work we won’t be hanging around with her. Unless we see the old Apple’s back we’re not going to flog her. We’ll look after her regardless,” O’Leary said.

Big rival

Apple’s Jade has won the Christmas Hurdle for the last two years, romping home by 26 lengths as an 8-13 last season in a race that saw her big rival Faugheen crash out at the second last flight.

This time she could face a high-class cross-channel raider in Harry Fry’s If The Cap Fits, who misses out on a clash with Paisley Park in this Saturday’s Grade One March Hurdle at Ascot.

“He’s fine. It’s just come too soon for him. We’ll see how he is in the next week or so. He is entered in Leopardstown the following Saturday. If he’s not ready for that we’ll just have to wait for the Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham at the end of January,” said Fry. 

If The Cap Fits won his first start of the season at Ascot last month. His absence means the Stayers champion Paisley Park is a long odds-on shot to repeat his 2018 victory in a three mile race best known as the Long Walk Hurdle.

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