Gordon Elliott: Expecting a big run from Samcro at Punchestown on Sunday

Gordon Elliott's Samcro
Samcro in winning action - can he win again on Sunday?

The Grade 1 John Durkan Chase is the big race at Punchestown on Sunday and Betfair Ambassador Gordon Elliott has two big chances of landing the prize...

"He has come on from Down Royal but he will need to as he is stepping into the big time here and this level of competition demands more. I'm still expecting a good run though."

- Gordon Elliott on Samcro

Punchestown

*Best Chance - Samcro (13:40)

Arrives nice and fresh and in good form

13:10 - The Sliding Rock

She has had a good season already having won twice and the hope now is that she will be able to pick up black type at some stage. She is going to have to improve if she is to achieve that aim but she's got a lot of heart which counts for a lot. She comes here nice and fresh and she is very well in herself so hopefully she could run a nice race but a longer trip would suit her better.

Big step up in class for Doyen but Samcro has come on from last run and can go well

13:40 - Battleoverdoyen & Samcro

I was impressed with Battleoverdoyen when he won on his comeback at Down Royal in late October. He did everything right that day and showed enough to suggest that he could be a contender for Grade 1s at this trip. I felt he would come on from Down Royal so hopefully there is more to come from him this afternoon and I think we learnt from last season that we were doing the wrong thing in trying to stretch him out in trip beyond two and a half miles. He is very well and I'm pleased with how he is working but this race represents a major step up in class and he is going to have to be at his best.

As a novice chaser Samcro achieved a bit more than Battleoverdoyen and I didn't think there would be much between them in that Down Royal race but Samcro made a mistake at the wrong time just as the pace was quickening up with three to jump and while he tried to get back into the race his lack of a previous run told against him.

Much like last season I think this horse will only be at his best in the spring time and I am training him to get back to Cheltenham but I'm hoping he will still be able to show us some high class form on the way. He has come on from Down Royal but he will need to as he is stepping into the big time here and this level of competition demands more. I'm still expecting a good run though.

Can go well if at his best

15:10 - Cuneo

Cuneo can make the odd mistake as he showed when exiting after the 10th in a race here last month. Previously he ran well in a similar handicap to this at Down Royal in late October and that form along with a couple of his beginner's chase efforts in the autumn give him a chance. He could run well if he puts his best foot forward.

Lacks experience but can run a nice race

15:40 - Champagne Sparkles

He's a lovely horse who has been coming together over the last few weeks and is ready to start off in a bumper from what he has shown me in his work. He will be a bit raw and green having never run in a point-to-point or a bumper before but I'm hoping he will run a nice race and he is closely related to a very good horse of ours in Sire Du Berlais.

Cork

Hoping he'll give a good account

12:20 - Joseph Conrad

Joseph Conrad ran a nice race in a useful looking Punchestown bumper on his first run back in October. I think he's come forward since then so hopefully can go close once again as he tries maiden hurdles for the first time. He looks like a horse who will be well suited by jumping so I didn't want to waste much time with him in bumpers. Hopefully he will give a good account of himself.

Will need run and improve for it

12:52 - Direct Fire

Direct Fire showed a nice level of form in a couple of point-to-point runs for Brian Hamilton but he has been off since April 2019 and he is going to need this run. I'm hope he can run a nice race but he will get tired and whatever he does here he will improve on quite a bit going forward. He seems a grand straight forward type who will be all the better for his first racecourse outing.

In good form with himself but he might need this a little

13:25 - Chosen Mate

He has been declared for the Grade 2 Hilly Way Chase and it will be interesting to see how he gets on. This is usually a pretty hot race and this year looks no different but our horse is entitled to line up on the best of his form from last season. He did win on heavy ground last season but I'm still not convinced he wants the ground too testing, particularly at this level. He's in good form and seems very well in himself so hopefully he will give a good account of himself but he will need this run a little as he did miss a little bit of time after his last run at Tipperary.

Going for some black type and she'll be doing her best late on

13:55 - Mount Ida

I thought that Mount Ida ran a nice race on her chasing debut here a few weeks ago. She needed her run and the trip was a little on the short side for her but I really liked the way she kept on in the straight. This trip is on the sharp side and I've no doubt that she will be better over further but this race has attracted a small field and offers our mare a chance to pick up some black type over fences which will be important. She will be doing her best work at the finish.

Will run his race but could be playing for second

14:30 - Ragnar Lodbrok

He ran a respectable race over this course and distance last month when he chased home Darrens Hope. He is slightly better off at the weights with her but still has his work cut out to reverse that form although I'm hoping that his last run will have taught him something and helped him to step forward. He's a grand, solid, staying type who should run his race but I think everyone could be playing for second behind Sayce Gold.

Best watched for now

15:00 - Walkabout

He has shown glimpses of his old ability now and again over the last six months but I'm not sure he is the horse he used to be and we're trying hurdles with him now as I think he has lost his confidence over fences. On his day he would be more than good enough to run well and he won his first race over hurdles at this track a few years ago but for the moment he is best watched.

Form doesn't inspire much confidence

15:30 - Dessie Deschamps (Reserve)

I have been a bit disappointed with this horse and his form figures don't inspire much confidence but I do actually think he has run a little better than his last two runs suggest and coming back in distance might work in his favour. I wouldn't be shocked if he ran better than his form figures suggest.

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