Ruby Walsh: I’d put Samcro in the same bracket as Faugheen and Douvan

Top jock Ruby Walsh was blown away by Gordon Elliott's exciting novice hurdler and reckons there's plenty to look forward to with Killultagh Vic and Min for Cheltenham next month...

Comments

Samcro

Samcro did what all good novices do. Faugheen did it, so did Douvan as a novice – they just look a cut about the others and that’s what Samcro is too.

He’s in a different league to them. Two miles, two-and-half miles, the trip doesn’t matter – he’s just better.

As for Cheltenham, when you take everything into consideration, like the pedigree, ground and the opposition – the Ballymore Novices Hurdle looks tailormade for him.

I say the overnight rain in Dublin didn’t help Sharjah in the Deloitte Novice Hurdle. Saturday’s ground was much drier, whereas Sunday’s was a good bit slower.

Sharjah will probably go to the Supreme Novices Hurdle anyway and he’ll need to improve to have a chance in that.

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Killultagh Vic

To be fair to Killultagh Vic, Sunday’s fall came in just his third run over fences. Then he’s put into a Grade One against seasoned campaigners.

His jumping was sketchy enough early on, but it got better down the back straight. I thought he was going to win, so he was very unlucky to fall. I know the race has a serious good news story in Edwulf’s triumph, it’s incredible training performance by Joseph O’Brien. I was delighted for them.

As for Killultagh Vic, the next week or ten days will tell us how he is.

However, he definitely put his name on the Cheltenham Gold Cup list.

He was officially rated 153 going into the race, he’s surely in the mid-160s now.

It does look a very open Gold Cup outside of Might Bite and Killultagh Vic has earned his place in that line-up. I’m genuinely excited about him.

Min

Min’s jumping was foot-perfect and the authority he showed was brilliant.

He looked like the horse that won in Gowran Park last November, rather than the one that lost around Christmas time.

We know he’s very good horse and the only time he was beaten really was by Altior, with Buveur D’air third – that’s some level of form.

Min is alive and well, he very capable of stamping his authority on the Champions Chase. He’s entitled to line up as a leading contender for that. I always thought he was a better horse in nicer ground, so hopefully if it’s drier in March for Cheltenham as well.

Faugheen

To be fair to all the other horses that won for Willie, I wouldn’t have swapped all the other winners at Leapoardstown to see Faugheen take victory. The ones that did win ran well and you can’t be knocking them back for one other horse.

I used the word “bored” to describe Faugheen’s performance in the Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown, it was probably the wrong word. He lacked spark and there was no fire from him, the contrast there is very easy to make.

When you look at Special Tiara, who is a specialist two-miler, how he spread-eagled the field from the start to the third fence and then you take Faugheen, Supasundae travelled way too easily alongside him.

Faugheen didn’t have the fire in his belly to burst up the field and put them under pressure, that’s what real two-milers do.

They don’t allow horses who go a bit further to get into their comfort zone, which Faugheen was usually able to do.

However, the fire just wasn’t there, he never looked in control of the race. You’d have thought a few strides out from the second last that maybe he’s going to go, but ultimately he didn’t and from 100 yards before the last hurdle you knew Supasundae was going to take it.

Now it was a great performance from Supasundae, but Jessica Harrington is still going to take him to a three-mile race. So, that probably tells you where Faugheen actually is.

Faugheen has run way below what he’s actually capable of, physically there’s doesn’t look to be anything wrong with him and he’s working well at home – but that pace just wasn’t there on the track.

I’d be hoping Willie Mullins can work all his magic with this fella, however there’s a diehard in me that won’t give up on him though.

Melon

Melon didn’t travel the way he can go in the Irish Champion Hurdle either. He should have been finishing in and around Mick Jazz in third. He was too far behind that and definitely ran below his standards.

Elsewhere, Bapaume only ran to the same level of form as he did as a juvenile. He was probably disappointing as well.

Yorkhill

I was stood in the crowd at Leopardstown watching Yorkhill’s race live, when Special Tiara burned up by the winning post and the only other horse that looked comfortable in the race was Min.

By the time Yorkhill went past the post the first time, he looked flat out to me. Having said that, his finishing effort was very tame. Ballycasey finished in front of him and we wouldn’t have had that any day of the week.

Yorkhill has had two outings this year and to be honest, they’ve been very, very ordinary runs.

To the best of my knowledge he’s 100 per cent, so he’s a real headscratcher!

As good a day as Willie Mullins had on Saturday, I’d be fairly convinced he was going home in the car that evening wondering what’s wrong with Faugheen, Yorkhill and Melon.

I don’t believe the battles Yorkhill has been in over the years have taken their toll, he’s been well enough minded. He only had four runs over fences last year. For me, he looked beaten very early in the race.

My injury

My 12 weeks are nearly up now and I’ve an x-ray scheduled for next week.

Hopefully, I’ll be able to go back riding out over the next ten days and be on target to return at the end of the month.

Willie wins

The story of the Irish Champions Trainer’s title between Willie and Gordon Elliott will have a good few twists and turns just yet.

There’s huge money to play for in Fairyhouse at Easter and we saw what can happen at Punchestown last year, but for the time being this is a good news story for racing that’s going to run and run.

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What do you think?