BALLYMORE NOVICES' HURDLE - RESULT
1 Samcro (J W Kennedy) 8-11 Fav
2 Black Op (N D Fehily) 8-1
3 Next Destination (R Walsh) 4-1
Samcro lived up to the hype with victory in the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
Gordon Elliott's big hope was sent off the 8-11 favourite for the opening race on day two, having arrived unbeaten in six starts under rules.
Teenager Jack Kennedy made sure there was no hard luck story by keeping out of trouble on the outside and cruised into contention on the final bend, taking up the running from Vision Des Flos.
Favourite Samcro races ahead of second-placed Black Op to win the Ballymore Novices Hurdle
Jack Kennedy celebrates after the opening race on day two of the Cheltenham Festival
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.
Elliott said: 'It's a big team effort from everyone at home, and it worked out great today.
'There was a lot of pressure, for Jack, for me - for everyone, the whole team. I'm delighted, it's brilliant.'
Samcro runs in the colours of Gigginstown House Stud, whose 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.
The celebrations begin after highly-rated Samcro came in first in the opener on Ladies' Day
The horses race towards the grandstand on the opening race of Wednesday at Cheltenham
'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.'
Kennedy said: 'That was unreal. He's just a class horse. I was there way too soon on him, but he kept going.
'The horse is very good. I wasn't happy with the position I had during the race, but he's such a good horse that he got me through.'
Scarpeta (left) and Gowiththeflow (right) led for much of the race but Samcro came through