Samcro is the best I’ve ridden, says Jack Kennedy

Jack Kennedy says Samcro, favourite for the Ballymore Novice Hurdle at Cheltenham in March and yet to run at a higher level than Grade Three, is the best he has ridden.

Speaking to RTE.ie at Naas’ launch of its Lawlor's of Naas Grade One Novice Hurdle, the Dingle teenager – who partnered Labaik to victory in the Supreme Novice Hurdle in March and who has tasted other Grade One success with Outlander and Apple’s Jade – lit up when asked about the Gordon Elliott-trained Samcro.

He said: "He’s the best I’ve ridden. Whatever he does over hurdles, he looks to be better again chasing.

"There is something different about Samcro. He relaxes so well, he travels – without doing too much. When you want him he is there for you. I can’t tell you what ground he’d prefer, and a trip doesn’t matter. He is a big horse, with a big long stride.

"He’s very natural jumping a hurdle. At the moment I’d say two and a half miles is his best trip. You know as soon as you throw your leg across him he’s a little bit different."

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Samcro is a likely runner in Naas’ big one in January, while he was also a surprise entry in the the Navan Novice Hurdle on Sunday, though Elliott has said it is far more likely Cracking Smart will run there.

Lisa O'Neill wins the Ryan's Cleaning Event Specialists Flat Race on Samcro

Kennedy believes that Cracking Smart – a leading fancy for the Albert Bartlett – still has a bit of growing to do. "He won very well at Cork; I’d say when he strengthens up and is jumping a fence, he’ll be better.

"He is a big frame to fill out yet; mentally he is still a baby. He is very big and when he is good hurdling he is good but he can throw in a sloppy one. He is a lovely horse."

Kennedy, who also gave favourable mention to Elliott’s dual bumper winner Rapid Escape, is set to ride three well-touted novices at Cheltenham in Samcro, Mengli Khan and Cracking Smart. The jockey also imparted a caveat about Mengli Khan, who is favourite for the race won last year by Labaik.

"Maybe going left-handed with him (might be a worry): he may be better going right."

Kate Harrington, meanwhile, reported that last year’s Irish National winner Our Duke – trained by her mother Jessica – returned to cantering on Tuesday.

He is expected to return in the New Year.

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