Navan earmarked for Don Cossack's jumping debut


RACING:Navan will host the €80,000 Ladbrokes Troytown Chase on Sunday, as well as the Grade Two Monksfield Hurdle, but the central focus is still likely to resolutely remain on a lowly maiden hurdle and Don Cossack’s eagerly anticipated jumping debut.

The Michael O’Leary-owned bumper star, memorably described by trainer Gordon Elliott as an “aeroplane” after one of his three wins last season, is already prominent in ante-post lists for all three top novice hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, including being 8 to 1 favourite for the two-mile Supreme.

Elliott has already indicated he believes one of the “longer-distance hurdles” such as the Neptune or the Albert Bartlett may be a more likely option for the German-bred star who has this weekend’s two-mile maiden as a probable start-point for his new career.

The old one, on the level, yielded a hat-trick of impressive victories last season, including at Navan when dramatically overhauling the pace-setting Rory O’Moore in a Grade Two bumper.

Don Cossack wound up his campaign with a 17-length victory at Fairyhouse over Easter and Elliott has reported: “He has been schooling very well and it is exciting times ahead. He could be very good if he stays alright.”

A number of other smart bumper performers, including Lord Of Lords who also has an entry in the Monksfield, could tackle the Gigginstown star on Sunday. However, victory for Don Cossack may see him attempt to graduate immediately to Grade One status over flights in the Royal Bond Hurdle a fortnight later, a race that is also on the radar for last season’s other bumper star, Champagne Fever.

Lord Of Lords, who missed out on a run at Wexford yesterday when the meeting was cancelled, is one of 16 hopefuls left in the Irish Form Book Monksfield over two and a half miles.

The in-form Dessie Hughes has left in the progressive Seefood while Elliott has both Bonisland and Shrapnel who appears at Fairyhouse today.

Jockey Alan Crowe is on a hat-trick of Troytown victories after wins for both Groody Hill and Jack The Bus in the last two years.

A total of 29 entries remain in the prestigious three-mile handicap after yesterday’s cancellation stage, including five from the Gigginstown Stud team.

They include the high-weight Magnanimity, who may skip the handicap test in favour of an easier assignment at Thurles next week.

Ground conditions at Navan yesterday were officially “heavy” with an unsettled forecast for the week ahead.

Horse Racing Ireland confirmed yesterday that Fairyhouse’s top two-mile spring races will be switched in 2013.

The Grade Two Normans Grove Chase will now be run at the Easter Festival (April 2nd) while the Dan Moore Memorial Chase takes place on January 20th.

Peter Roe Manager of Fairyhouse said: “This change has been brought about to introduce a competitive conditions chase to our Easter festival which currently does not have any championship type chases for horses beyond novice status.

“This is a welcome addition for our Easter Festival while the Dan Moore Chase will fit in well into the calendar in late January.”

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