O'Leary: Samcro runs in the Ballymore and that's final
The humming and hawing is over. Samcro will run in the Ballymore rather than the Supreme at next month's Cheltenham Festival, while Apple's Jade will swerve the Sun Bet Stayers' Hurdle to defend her OLBG Mares' Hurdle crown.
In his usual no-nonsense style, Eddie O'Leary revealed that the Supreme is no longer under consideration for the unbeaten Samcro and the Gigginstown racing manager said there is no chance whatsoever of Apple's Jade tackling the boys over three miles.
O'Leary said: "It has always been our intention to run Samcro in the Ballymore and nothing has changed. He runs in the Ballymore and that's final. We think that he will be a nice chaser over three miles for next season so, even though he won the Deloitte over two miles, he won't be running in the Supreme.
"We don't do hype so Samcro will have to go out and show us what he is made of in the Ballymore. Hopefully he will get there in one piece."
Samcro was as short as 6-4 with a run for the Supreme. He is a top price of 4-5 for the Ballymore.
Apple's not taking on the boys
Having beaten Stayers' Hurdle favourite Supasundae over 3m at Leopardstown's Christmas meeting, there have been calls to let Apple's Jade take on the boys over that trip at Cheltenham but O'Leary is having none of it.
"Apple's Jade will run in the mares' hurdle and won't be running in the Stayers'. That has always been her aim and nothing has changed. She's in great form," O'Leary said.
While not as high-profile as the aforementioned pair, O'Leary revealed that Balko Des Flos will be Gigginstown's number one hope in the Ryanair Chase as they attempt to win the race for the first time.
Footpad (generally Evens to win the Arkle, March 13)
Sure-footed novice chaser has won all three starts over fences.
Buveur D'Air (4-9 to win the Champion Hurdle, March 13)
Last year's Champion looks the dominant force in the division.
Apple's Jade (8-13 to win the Mares' Hurdle, March 13)
Seven-time Grade 1 winner has triumphed on her last five outings.
Samcro (4-5 to win the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle, March 14)
Unbeaten and boasts huge reputation after six wins under Rules.
Altior (4-6 to win the Queen Mother Champion Chase, March 14)
Racing Post Arkle winner who is unbeaten over hurdles and fences.
Laurina (11-10 to win the Mares Novices Hurdle, March 15)
Sauntered to success at Fairyhouse and looks an exciting talent.
"Balko Des Flos ran really well at Leopardstown [when runner-up in the Christmas Chase] and he will go for the Ryanair. He is a good horse and we would like to think that he would run well in it. It certainly looks to be the right race for him," O'Leary said.
Gigginstown's Sub Lieutenant was second behind Un De Sceaux in the Ryanair last year, while First Lieutenant chased home Cue Card in 2013. Balko Des Flos is 12-1 with BoyleSports who are top price.
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