Samcro crashed out with a big race in his grasp for the second time in his career, parting with jockey Jack Kennedy at the second-last fence in the Drinmore. The popular, much-hyped chestnut was travelling strongly and seemed able to go past Fakir D’Oudairies at any moment but instead left that rival to score an easy victory at Fairythouse.
“Strap yourselves in,” called the track commentator, Jerry Hannon, anticipating a big finish as the two horses turned for home. But Fakir D’Oudairies threw in a leap that Samcro could not match; he hit the top of the fence and sprawled on the landing side, leaving Kennedy no chance of staying aboard and echoing his late fall in Punchestown’s Champion Hurdle last year.
The jockey punched the turf in frustration. But the positive message to be taken from the race is that Samcro’s engine evidently remains intact. He was reportedly uninjured.
“What would have happened, I’m not totally sure but Jack couldn’t have been happier,” said Samcro’s trainer, Gordon Elliott. “He showed a lot of spark and he looks to be back to his best.”
Arguably, Elliott’s most exciting charge just now is Envoi Allen, a stylish winner of the Royal Bond, which took place half an hour before Samcro’s spill. The Grade One novice hurdle has a good reputation for identifying major talents, like Moscow Flyer, Hurricane Fly and Jezki.
The other Grade One on the Fairyhouse card, the Hatton’s Grace, was won impressively by Honeysuckle under Rachael Blackmore, with Apple’s Jade disappointing in third. Honeysuckle is 2-1 favourite for the mares’ hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival but is no bigger than 14-1 for the Champion Hurdle.
Meanwhile, Nicky Henderson said Buveur D’Air was beginning what is expected to be a slow recovery from the hoof injury he sustained at Newcastle on Saturday, when a piece of wood from a hurdle stuck into a hoof. An operation will be necessary and his season could be over.