'It's nothing serious' but Elliott star Samcro ruled out of Naas Grade 1
Potential superstar Samcro will miss the Lawlor's of Naas Novice Hurdle on Sunday after scoping dirty on Wednesday and will instead be targeted at next month's Dublin Racing Festival.
The Gordon Elliott-trained six-year-old – unbeaten in five starts under rules – began the day as Paddy Power's 4-9 favourite for the first Grade 1 of the year in Ireland but was soon eased to 4-6 and was trading at 15-8 by 3pm.
Next Destination had assumed 4-7 favouritism for the Naas feature by the time light was shed on Samcro's drift at 3.45pm, when Eddie O'Leary told the Racing Post Gigginstown House Stud's most prized possession had not scoped clean.
The owners' racing manager said: "Samcro did not scope 100 per cent today and won't be running at Naas.
"It's a shame as we've had that race in mind for some time, but it's just one of those things and it could be worse. He'll be fine.
"We'll now aim him at the Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown. I think that weekend is a tremendous initiative and hopefully all the best horses will show up."
Elliott has two Grade 1 options for Samcro during that meeting on February 3 and 4 – the 2m Deloitte Novice Hurdle or the 2m6f Nathaniel Lacy & Partners Solicitors Novice Hurdle.
The trainer said: "Samcro scoped a little bit dirty. It's nothing serious. We just couldn't take the chance with him, so he won't be running at Naas.
"We'll now aim him at the Dublin Racing Festival and we'll look at both the Grade 1s and see which one suits best."
For Paddy Power, spokesman Paul Binfield said: "We price up a lot of ante-post races nowadays and we're well aware that, apart from the biggest races at Cheltenham, running plans are often fluid and a certain amount of guesswork is needed.
"As far as the Grade 1 at Naas on Sunday is concerned, we did see a flurry of bets for Next Destination and that told us he was very much an intended runner in the race, so we altered our prices accordingly. As soon as we saw Samcro was a non-runner we suspended him from our betting."
He added: "With regard to why we didn't suspend our market when we saw the money coming for Next Destination, we can't do that with all of these races just because we see money for one horse or another."
Music to Meade's ears
Samcro's absence will be music to the ears of some trainers and Noel Meade could be double-handed in Sunday's Grade 1 as Athenean and Moyross are reported on course for the race.
Meade said: "Athenean has been shaping as though two and a half miles might suit him; certainly the way he won at Cork suggests a step up in trip will be right up his street. He's in good form and the plan is to run.
"Moyross has done nothing wrong this season, winning both his starts over hurdles at Galway and Cork, and I think I'll let him take his chance too. They're both nice horses."
In the absence of Samcro, Willie Mullins is responsible for the favourite and second favourite, in Next Destination and Carter McKay.
The going at Naas on Wednesday was soft to heavy and, with an unsettled forecast, it will almost certainly be testing on Sunday.
Lawlor's of Naas Novice Hurdle
Paddy Power: 4-7 Next Destination, 9-2 Carter McKay, 8 Speak Easy, 12 Cracking Smart, 16 Athenean, Mengli Khan, 20 Blow By Blow, Duc De Genievres, Moyross, 25 bar
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