Samcro aiming for bigger Cheltenham prizes after living up to Festival hype

• Brilliant winner could have 2020 Gold Cup in his sights
• Michael O’Leary starts to believe after Ballymore victory

Samcro is not the second coming of Jesus Christ, we have been assured by his owner, but, for many punters here, he will do until Jesus Christ comes along. This place has welcomed many a hyped novice hurdler from Ireland over the years and a fair number of them were sent home without the trophy but Samcro’s reputation proved entirely justified in the opening race. “He’s performed his first miracle,” declared one particularly gleeful fan, after the Ballymore Hurdle.

Jack Kennedy, his 18-year-old jockey who was himself praised to the skies from a very early stage, does not do nerves but few of those in the crowd are so blessed. There were rumblings of discontent as Samcro dived over an early hurdle, then seemed to trip over a road crossing.

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