Gordon Elliott was able to breathe a sigh of relief after Samcro landed the odds in the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham

Unbeaten prior to heading to the Festival, connections had been attempting to play down the hype surrounding the Gigginstown House Stud-owned six-year-old, but plenty of punters made him their banker bet of the week.

Teenager Jack Kennedy made sure there was no hard luck story by keeping out of trouble on the outside on the 8-11 favourite and cruised into contention on the final bend, taking up the running from Vision Des Flos.

While Black Op made good headway to break away from the rest, he never looked like catching Samcro and a mistake at the final flight stopped his momentum.

Next Destination, off the bridle early under Ruby Walsh, flew up the hill to claim third, just ahead of stablemate Scarpeta.

Elliott raised the possibility of a Champion Hurdle tilt next year, but stressed all plans would be discussed in due course.

"It's a big team effort from everyone at home, and it worked out great today," he said.

"There was a lot of pressure, for Jack, for me - for everyone, the whole team."
Gigginstown supremo Michael O'Leary, the boss of Ryanair, said: "He was terrific - very good - and was given a great ride by Jack Kennedy.

"He's done everything that Gordon's asked him to do. It was great.

"Now the worry is for him to keep fit and well. We'll see how he gets on.

"Hopefully he'll be fit and well and head to Punchestown, and then Gordon will make a plan next year for him.
"At least he's won at Cheltenham so he's going the right way."

Elliott went on: "He looks a very exciting horse and we are very lucky to have him. Michael loves his big chasers, but I wouldn't be afraid to bring him back in trip.

"He has loads of pace. He only comes awake when the race gets going and he is asleep the first half of the race. When he got to the front he pulled up again."