Elliott And Gigginstown To Be Cro-wing

Last weekend we were purring with excitement at the prospect of five top class staying chasers clashing at Haydock and today it is the two mile Champion Hurdle contenders that take centre stage.

The ex-Willie Mullins-trained Bleu Et Rouge looks the rag of the Fighting Fifth field but it appears to be the most memorable renewal of this Newcastle race.

Elliott And Gigginstown To Be Cro-wing
There was disappointing news on Friday evening that Samcro’s conqueror Bedrock had been ruled out of the Fighting Fifth but it is still a vintage looking contest.

On Wednesday we had Samcrogate where bookmakers were forced to suspend betting when it looked like he was going to be an absentee but the Neptune Novices’ Hurdle winner has arrived in Newcastle and can leave with the lion’s share of the prize.

Having been beaten by the aforementioned Bedrock at Down Royal and in truth looking laboured in the closing part of that race, it is a leap of faith to stick with Samcro to beat a Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner in Summerville Boy and a dual Champion Hurdle hero in Buveur D’air but the Irish raider is trusted to come back to his best.

There is no doubt that Buveur D’air is the standard setter. Few horses manage to win back to back Champion Hurdles and he sets a very high standard but Samcro can show his true colours today.

Elliott’s runners have appeared to be improving for their first outing of the season and more can be expected from Samcro, who was conceding weight at Down Royal.

It was interesting to hear Elliott speak about Samcro this week and along with the pleasing bit of work he spoke about, there was also a good point about Mick Jazz who was third in the Champion Hurdle.

Mick Jazz was admittedly ridden to be placed in the Champion Hurdle last March but he did get within three lengths of Buveur D’air and off level weights you’d expect Samcro to finish further ahead of Mick Jazz than three lengths. It’s a big day for Samcro with Elliott insisting that he won’t go over fences this season even if he is beaten here but that is a conversation that hopefully won’t have to be had.

The 2m5f novice at Cheltenham has proven a good Champion Hurdle stepping stone in the past and…

Samcro can keep his name at the top of that company with a win today.

Nicholls Can Secure Trophy With Black Corton
The race once known as the Hennessy used to be a race that would be a pre Christmas highlight of the National Hunt season but the Ladbrokes Trophy this year has attracted a poor field, numerically at least.

It’s hard to imagine that a horse like Denman, Bobs Worth, Many Clouds or Native River lies in waiting here but time will tell.

Looking through the race and it’s understandable that the 1-2 from Sandown’s Intermediate Chase last month, Elegant Escape and Thomas Patrick, are heading the betting but a chance is taken on Black Corton.

Paul Nicholls does know what it takes to win this race and he will be as glad as anyone that it doesn’t look the hottest of renewals but there was a sense from listening to him earlier in the week that he was pleased with Black Corton’s preparation.

The Nicholls team have been in good order and with a run under his belt the Grade 1 winning novice might just be able to land another major prize in the hands of Bryony Frost.

Second to Definitly Red in the Charlie Hall Chase when by right Black Corton should have parted company with Frost, it was a fair effort in the circumstances and…

despite the burden of top weight he could still run a big race at 12/1.

Recommended Bets:
Samcro (13/8) – 2.05 Newcastle
Black Corton (12/1) – 3.00 Newbury

*Prices correct at time of publication.