Don Cossack may yet secure Cheltenham Festival spot
Tomorrow’s triple-Grade Two card at Naas tomorrow has seen last-minute Cheltenham tickets booked in the past and Don Cossack could still secure a festival place if returning to winning form.
Much of the sheen surrounding Michael O’Leary’s ex-bumper star may have been removed in the last few months but he remains as low as 16 to 1 in some ante-post lists for the Neptune and has a fourth start over flights in the Paddy Power Novice Hurdle tomorrow.
This race served as a winning warm-up for the subsequent Supreme hero Go Native in 2009 and last year’s winner Felix Yonger found only Simonsig too good for him at Cheltenham a couple of weeks later.
Don Cossack faces half-a-dozen opponents in what is an impressively competitive heat.
Defy Logic has had two wide-margin wins to date, but against inferior opposition to this, while Moscow Mannon’s season has been so interrupted that he could miss the festival entirely. Diplomat is pitched into Grade Two company after just one run over flights yet gets all the allowances, and is hardened from nine starts on the flat, but Don Cossack’s big threat is likely to be Annie Power.
Unbeaten in five starts, the form of the Willie Mullins trained mare’s Clonmel win was boosted during the week and she is a 25 to 1 shot for both the Supreme and the Neptune.
Plenty of experts rely on the old adage about following a horse until it’s beaten and the extent of Annie Power’s potential is unknown.
In contrast, the Don Cossack balloon has been severely deflated. However, he did run better behind Mozoltov at Punchestown, may strip sharper now and could be worth another shot.
Call The Police shaped like a drop back to two miles in the two-mile chase will be no problem to him when successful at Clonmel while the dual-French bumper winner Upsie goes in the opener.
Mikael d’Haguenet will have Ruby Walsh on his back in the Nas Na Riogh Chase and officially has 10lb in hand of the Leopardstown Chases runner-up Sweeney Tunes. However that was just the latter’s third start over fences and he could be on the upgrade.
Mullins’s Outlander is chasing a hat-trick but as a result has to concede a lot of weight to Grand Jesture who has a first run for Henry De Bromhead, having scored at 25 to 1 on his only run to date last year.