Samcro made an impressive bow over fences on reappearance and is fancied to follow-up in the Grade 1 Drinmore Novice Chase over 2m 4f at the Fairyhouse Winter Festival on Sunday (13:30).
Trainer Gordon Elliott has won this race five times since 2010. Like Delta Work, Death Duty and Don Cossack, this seven-year-old carries the maroon and white silks of Gigginstown House Stud.
With his handler and owners boasting such a good record in this, Samcro – who was a top class novice hurdler the season before last – is a strong fancy here.
This son of Germany won an Irish point and three bumpers before starting out over the smaller obstacles.
After bolting up by 15 lengths in a Punchestown maiden, Samcro followed-up with Grade 3 success at Navan over this trip.
He then dropped back for a maiden success at the highest level during the Dublin Racing Festival.
Samcro was all the rage for the 2018 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham and justified favouritism when asserting after the last to beat Black Op by 2 3/4 lengths.
That victory came despite him losing a shoe. Although Samcro fell three out in the Punchestown Champion Hurdle, connections decided to keep him in that sphere last season.
Nothing went right with his campaign, however. He was beaten at Down Royal and in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle.
Stumps were drawn for the season after Samcro finished down the field in the Ryanair Hurdle at Leopardstown last Christmas.
However, he has since bounced back on chasing debut at Down Royal when winning by an unextended 17 lengths.
This trip and ground hold no fears for Samcro, so he is a worthy 11/8 favourite with BetVictor to follow-up.
Fakir D’oudairies the main danger
The Drinmore Novice Chase was won by leading owner JP McManus three years ago courtesy of Coney Island.
His sole representative in this renewal is the Joseph O’Brien trained Fakir D’oudairies.
As a four-year-old, this Kapgarde gelding gets 8lb weight-for-age here. That is an obvious plus.
Fakir D’oudairies is obviously held in high regard by connections to be sent chasing so soon in his career. The French import did have two spins over fences prior to joining O’Brien.
It was his taking 13-length success in a Grade 2 Triumph Hurdle Trial at Cheltenham that marked him out as something special, however.
That gave McManus, racing manager Frank Berry and O’Brien a decision to make.
They pitched him in against his elders for the Supreme come the Cheltenham Festival and Fakir D’oudairies was far from disgraced when finishing fourth.
He was then runner-up in Grade 1s at Aintree and Punchestown when back against fellow juveniles.
Fakir D’oudairies has comfortably beaten dual Champion Hurdle runner-up Melon by three lengths with a fine round of jumping on his Irish chase bow at Navan.
This demands more but – in receipt of weight all-round – it would be folly to underestimate his chances.
Fakir D’oudairies is 15/8 with Betfred and, off these terms, a clear danger to Samcro if getting the trip which he should but tackles for the first time.
Drinmore Novice Chase distance a concern for Mullins duo
Irish champion trainer Willie Mullins is no stranger to success in this event.
He saddles two in this year’s renewal, but the distance looks a little on the sharp side for both Burrows Saint and new recruit Chef Des Obeaux.
Such are the quirks of horse racing rules in the Emerald Isle that the former, who won the Irish Grand National here on Easter Monday, is still a novice until Monday.
Burrows Saint made rapid progress in the spring. This Rich and Susannah Ricci owned six-year-old was only fourth to subsequent Arkle winner Duc Des Genievres on his chase bow at Gowran Park in February.
He left that reappearance run behind, however, by notching up a hat-trick. Burrows Saint made mistakes but still won comfortably enough at the same venue and then followed-up in a 3m Grade 3 around Limerick.
He was backed into 6/1 favourite for the Irish National under Ruby Walsh and justified that faith off an opening handicap chase mark of 144.
Mullins clearly had Burrows Saint streets ahead of the assessor and his rating is up 12lb for that 1 3/4 lengths victory.
Although he failed to fire in the Grand Steeplechase de Paris at Auteuil, dropping markedly down in trip on his return to action here isn’t ideal. Odds of 9/1 with Coral reflect that.
Chef Des Obeaux better over further
The same can be said of stable companion Chef Des Obeaux, who used to be trained by Nicky Henderson.
This Sullivan Bloodstock owned seven-year-old was a Grade 2 winning novice hurdler in 2018 who was sent chasing last term.
Chef Des Obeaux didn’t jump quickly enough to be effective over this trip when third on his bow over fences at Uttoxeter.
He then unseated at Chepstow but returned to the Welsh venue and scored success over 3m 2f, forging clear from three out.
While Chef Des Obeaux was pulled up in the Grade 2 National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham, it was tough going and few finished that day.
After being aimed at staying trips by Henderson, this debut for new handler Mullins in the Drinmore Novice Chase looks on the sharp side.
It’s a reason to take both Chef Des Obeaux – 20/1 with Betway for this – and Burrows Saint on. They have each been seen to best effect over fences in tests of endurance.
That’s why Samcro is preferred and Fakir D’oudairies is shorter in the betting than either.