Newcastle officials are excited at the prospect of Samcro joining last year’s winner Buveur D’Air in what promises to be a vintage renewal of the Betvictor Fighting Fifth Hurdle.
Trainer Gordon Elliott turned his attention to the Grade One showpiece at the Gosforth Park track on December 1 after Samcro was a late withdrawal from Sunday’s Morgiana Hurdle because of quick ground at Punchestown.
That was music to the ears of Newcastle clerk of the course James Armstrong – who has also been encouraged by the weather forecast, which has plenty of rain in it before the big race.
“It would be absolutely wonderful from our point of view – we’d be very pleased with that,” Armstrong said at the prospect of a Samcro-Buveur D’Air showdown.
“Nicky Henderson said to me the other day that coming here is the number one plan for Buveur D’Air, unless something goes amiss.
“Iain Jardine is very keen to run Bedrock again. That’s his plan, and Supreme Novices’ Hurdle Summerville Boy is also on course for the race as well.
“Those are four, we hope, that are nailed on to coming – if Samcro comes, if we get the rain. That looks likely from tomorrow evening through the rest of the week on and off.
“We could see some appreciable rain for the first time in a while, and our ground will obviously ease.
“The hurdle course is basically good ground – the chase course is marginally quicker. We’ve got a fair bit of rain forecast between now and the meeting, so we hope the ground would be decent enough for all of them to want to take up the entry.
It will be a relief to all if the promised rain does arrive in time.
“It would be fantastic for us if they all turned up. We’d love it,” added Armstrong.
“I don’t think any of them would be shying away from decent proper winter jumping ground – which has got to come eventually.
“The rain we’re forecast this week will probably certainly (make it) good to soft by the end of the week – possibly even easier, depending what comes out of the sky.
“Everyone has had a tough summer. We raced on ground quicker than we would have liked on Friday but the course is in great nick. Some natural precipitation would benefit everybody now that the winter jumping horses are back in training again.”