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Is Samcro a true Cheltenham banker bet or is he over-hyped like Dunguib?

Samcro is the biggest good thing to race at the Cheltenham Festival since Dunguib got beat at odds of 4/5 in the 2010 Supreme Novice Hurdle. Ok, maybe that is a little nonsensical but there are clear similarities between the two horses.

Dunguib arrived at Cheltenham on the back of an unbeaten eight race sequence. Pundits were hailing him as the nest Istabraq and, apparently, he was taking the easiest race option despite him having the ability “to win any hurdle race at the Festival.”

Suffice to say when it came to Cheltenham betting tips, his name was at the top of every horse racing pundit’s short list. But the Irish-trained horse never read the script and while finishing third, he never looked like winning the opening race of that year’s Cheltenham Festival.

Fast forward eight years and the next superstar novice hurdler from Ireland, Samcro, has been declared for the Ballymore Novice Hurdle race. This is probably the easiest possible consignment for the £335,000 purchase who had a number of Cheltenham options available to him.

Most certainly the six year-old has every conceivable stat in the book favouring him:

  • His age is ideal (fourteen of the last 22 winners were aged six)
  • Six of the last 10 winners were Irish trained
  • 26 of the last 27 winners had run at least three times over hurdles
  • 31 of the last 32 winners finished either first or second in their last start
  • 26 of the last 27 winners had run at least three times over hurdles

But, despite all this, be warned: Only three of the last 12 favourites in this race have won this particular Cheltenham Festival race.

Blind-sided

It is only the final stat that will concern anyone brave enough to back this so-called odds-on ‘Cheltenham Banker’. But why ignore this one vital form pointer when there is one horse who ticks every box? His name is On The Blind Side, he hails from the Nicky Henderson yard – the most successful Cheltenham Festival trainer of all time – and he is not going to start as favourite on the big day.

Naturally you will never know how good any horse is until it is beaten and On The Blind Side is three-from-three at distances of 2-mile 4-furlongs and 2-mile 5-furlongs.

Samcro has won six but only three of those came over timber and he’s only been over 2-miles once. Both horses won their one and only point-to-point race in Ireland.

Clear Value

The tale of the tape suggests there is little between this duo, indeed official and Racing Post ratings have them just three-pound apart.

But given Irish punters ability to self-love and consequently over-bet their unbeaten potential champions, the shrewdest punters will see through the hype and appreciate what clear betting value, as an each-way proposition, the 6/1 British-trained runner represents.