Safe conditions key to Don Cossack’s Irish Daily Star Chase run
Elliot hopeful Don Cossack can develop into contender for Cheltenham Gold Cup
Gordon Elliott: his stable star, Don Cossack, enjoyed a tremendous campaign last term, winning six of his seven starts including three Grade One victories. Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images
Ground conditions will dictate whether Ireland’s highest-rated chaser Don Cossack will make his seasonal reappearance in Thursday’s Irish Daily Star Chase at Punchestown.
Gordon Elliott’s stable star enjoyed a tremendous campaign last term, winning six of his seven starts including three Grade One victories. Connections are keen to see him return to action in this Grade Three event, as he did last season, but only if underfoot conditions are deemed suitable.
Eddie O’Leary, manager for owner Gigginstown House Stud, said: “Hopefully the ground is safe enough to run. Punchestown do a great job with the ground, so hopefully it’s good enough as we’d like to run if we can . . .”
Elliott is hopeful his pride and joy can develop into a realistic contender for the Cheltenham Gold Cup, with the King George VI Chase at Kempton St Stephen’s Day a possible port of call on the way.
Speaking in a recent stable tour with At The Races, the trainer said: “He was awesome last season, he just kept improving as the season went on. Ground permitting, he’ll start off at Punchestown on Thursday, but he obviously won’t be fully wound up.
Elliott and Gigginstown are also represented by Roi Du Mee, winner of this race in 2011 and 2012, and Bright New Dawn, formerly trained by Sandra Hughes.
Elliott said of the former: “He’s been an unbelievable servant. He’s only small, but if we had a couple more like him we’d be all right.”
Jessica Harrington’s PWC Champion Chase-winning mare Cailin Annamh and Stephen Mahon’s stable star Aranhill Chief complete the five-strong field. The Game Changer will bid to complete a quick-fire hat-trick in the Buck House Novice Chase at Punchestown on Thursday. A good winner of the Kilbegnet Novice Chase at Roscommon at the end of September, it did not take Gordon Elliott’s six-year-old long to follow up as just six days later he claimed the notable scalp of Rule The World in Tipperary’s Like A Butterfly Novice Chase.
The Colin Bowe-trained Shantou Flyer turns out just over a fortnight after winning at Sligo and having done most of his racing over longer distances, he looks likely to be ridden prominently. “He’s in good form and he likes the ground,” said the trainer.