Cossack to show off his skills at Navan
RACING:Don Cossack’s path towards becoming possibly the most popular German in Ireland can take in a first Grade One success when Michael O’Leary’s potential superstar lines up at Navan tomorrow.
Just five opponents are declared to tackle Don Cossack in the Navan Novice Hurdle which sees the Gordon Elliott-trained five-year-old step up to two and a half miles for just his second start over flights.
The first, also at Navan, did nothing to take the shine off a sky-high reputation established last season with three bumper victories and already Don Cossack is ante-post favourite in some lists for all three top-flight novices’ hudle events at Cheltenham in March.
Scale of promise
That Elliott expects the strapping son of Sholokhov to only reach his peak over fences indicates the scale of promise and hope already being invested in the Gigginstown Stud-owned youngster. “He’s in good form and we’ve been very happy with him since the last day,” Elliott said yesterday. “He did everything right last time and we’re going to find out how good he is on Sunday, but I couldn’t be happier with him at home. The heavy ground will be okay.”
However, Don Cossack’s impact can already be gauged by events off the racecourse.
Don Cossack is German-bred with a dam line full of stout German blood. His sire Sholokhov was based in Germany after a racing career for Aidan O’Brien that saw him win an Italian Group One in 2001 and finish runner-up to High Chaparral in the following year’s Irish Derby. He also put in a stint as a pacemaker for Hawk Wing.
But Don Cossack’s rise to prominence has seen Sholokhov return to Ireland and Rathbarry Stud during the summer.
Willie Mullins throws both Reine Angevine and Pont Alexandre, winner of a French hurdle last May and Ruby Walsh’s pick, at Don Cossack, while Busty Brown landed the Grade Two Monksfield on his last start. There will be widespread surprise though if any of them is able to get the better of the hotpot.
A pair of Grade Twos add depth to tomorrow’s card with last month’s 25 to 1 Lismullen winner Whatuthink back at the track for a double-up attempt.
There’s no Voler La Vedette this time but there is the Royal Ascot winner Simenon who is on a retrieval mission after a long odds-on failure on his last start.
Sailor’s Warn attempts two and a half miles for the first time but Whatuthink represents the in-form Oliver McKiernan and on the Lismullen evidence could be tough to overtake.
Some big reputations will be put on the line in the Grade Two bumper but Gilt Shadow impressed when beating Silver Tassie at Down Royal on his debut and can be the one to emerge with his record enhanced.
Boston Bob hit the headlines for the first time on this weekend last year when scoring in the Grade One hurdle and his first start over fences will be eagerly anticipated tomorrow.
You Must Know Me is a point winner that could present a challenge but fences have long been expected to get the best out of Graham Wylie’s star and anything but a Boston Bob victory will be disappointing.
Today’s Fairyhouse action sees Alderwood, winner of the County Hurdle and a Punchestown Grade One last season, tackle his second start over fences and the JP McManus team will be hoping he has a happier experience this time.
At Navan Alderwood came down on the run-in after hitting a false patch of ground and was lucky to emerge unscathed. He will do well though to get the better of Darwins Fox who was runner-up to Sword Of Destiny in that Navan event.
King Of The Refs has been expensive to follow and gets another chance in the longer Beginners Chase today. Panther Claw wasn’t beaten too far behind Mount Benbulben last time and still holds a Fort Leney entry over Christmas.
Steady Ed followed up a Limerick maiden hurdle success with a third back over fences at Thurles but should relish a stamina test in the handicap chase while Apt Approach won first time out over hurdles last season and can repeat that today.