Horsebetting.com’s WKD Hurdle betting tips say Samcro can’t be opposed in the 2m Grade 2 feature on day one of the Down Royal Festival. The Champion Hurdle contender is bidding to give trainer Gordon Elliott a first-ever winner of this. Sharjah represents rival handler Willie Mullins, so is the forecast choice. Scottish raider Bedrock, meanwhile, looks an alternative to the odds-on favourite. Our 2018 WKD Hurdle betting tips preview has more.Samcro a worthy WKD favouriteGordon Elliott has never trained the winner of the Grade 2 WKD Hurdle, but that’s likely to change as he unleashes stable star Samcro on the 2m feature at Down Royal on Friday (13:45). The six-year-old is 5lb and upwards clear of his rivals on ratings and reappears here with Champion Hurdle glory the campaign aim for owners Gigginstown House Stud.
The six-year-old is a point winner, scoring by a length from the useful Elegant Escape before joining County Meath handler Elliott. Samcro then made a flawless start to his National Hunt career by landing three bumpers, including when a half-a-length winner over handy mare Good Thyme Tara at Listed level.
Connections looked to have a serious prospect on their hands, and that was confirmed by the facile nature of his first two starts over hurdles. After bolting up by 15 lengths in a Punchestown maiden, Samcro was stepped up to 2m 4f and landed a Group 3 at Navan when he eased clear on the bit between the last two flights for a 12-length success.
He already looked a Grade 1 horse in the making and made the step up to elite level look effortless when an easy 5 1/2 lengths victor in the Deloitte Novice Hurdle at the inaugural Dublin Racing Festival in February. Samcro was thus a Cheltenham Festival banker for many pundits and punters this year where he landed the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle.
Produced to lead by regular rider Jack Kennedy turning for home, Samcro only needed driving out up the run-in for a 2 3/4 lengths success over Black Op. The front two pulled a further five lengths clear and the runner-up franked the form when scoring in the Grade 1 Mersey Novices’ Hurdle at the Aintree Grand National meeting.
Samcro then took aim at open company for the first time in the Punchestown Champion Hurdle, yet fell going well three out. He was racing in second place and joined by two others when taking a tumble, but it’s the only blemish in an otherwise glittering career.
The assessor has still put him 2lb to a mark of 160 despite hitting the deck, so off level weights Samcro is impossible to oppose. He’s got the opposition running scared, is a worthy odds-on favourite and, granted a clear round, had to be the main selection in our 2018 WKD Hurdle betting tips.Sharjah the obvious forecast shoutChampion Irish trainer Willie Mullins won this 12 months ago for the first time with Melon, and his sole entrant in this renewal is Sharjah for Rich and Susannah Ricci. His Galway Festival win over the summer has him up 9lb to a rating of 155.
While that puts him 5lb adrift of Samcro, Sharjah is also 6lb and upwards clear of the remainder, so he’s the obvious alternative and recommended to fill the forecast. The five-year-old fell when disputing the last in the Grade 1 Future Champions Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown last Christmas and was a disappointing seventh in the Deloitte when sent off second-favourite.
That meant he wasn’t fancied for any of his runs in the end-of-season festivals on either side of the Irish Sea, but Sharjah still looked the type that could have more to offer on better ground. He shaped well when a three-length third to Joey Sasa after a break in a hot Grade 3 at Tipperary in July and that put him spot on for a tilt at the Galway Hurdle.
Handicap hurdles over 2m don’t get more competitive than that summer highlight, so Sharjah put in a sterling performance off top weight to score by three lengths. He’s since had a couple of spins on the Flat in Premier Handicaps to maintain race fitness, so looks the one most likely to chase Samcro home or capitalise if the favourite fails to deliver.Bedrock an alternative forecast betWith just four going to post, the only other runner with any hope of getting near the mighty Samcro is the Iain Jardine trained Scottish raider Bedrock, who was fourth in the Galway Hurdle and has won since. Formerly with Dan Skelton, the five-year-old bolted up by eight lengths on debut for his current handler at Musselburgh back in March and was then third in a Grade 1 at Aintree.
Bedrock outran massive odds of 33/1 to be beaten just 3 1/4 lengths by Lalor, pulling a further nine lengths clear of the fourth home. Connections kept him racing over the summer in staying handicaps on the Flat and he was only 6 3/4 lengths behind Sharjah when reverting to hurdles at Galway.
Following runs at the Ebor Festival and on Sprint Cup day at Haydock, Bedrock was back over timber last time out when a comfortable 4 1/2 lengths winner at Grade 3 level. This was a hot contest for the grade, including former County Hurdle winners Wicklow Brave and Arctic Fire further behind him in third and fourth.
While this obviously demands more, Bedrock’s mark of 149 means he is the third best horse in the race on paper and thus an alternative to Sharjah, who has on occasion been an untidy hurdler, if he fails to fire. Our 2018 WKD Hurdle betting tips recommend the straight forecast with Samcro with either of his two main rivals chasing him home.Your Next Bet