Cossack remains a possible for Thurles

Gordon Elliott will consider letting stable star Don Cossack turn out for next week’s Kinloch Brae Chase at Thurles.

Cossack remains a possible for Thurles

The eight-year-old was last seen claiming his second Grade One over fences with a most impressive display in the John Durkan Memorial Chase at Punchestown, after which Elliott suggested his charge might not run again until the Cheltenham Festival.

Don Cossack missed the action over the festive period as planned, but Elliott has given him an entry in Thursday’s Grade Two feature in County Tipperary and there is every chance he could take his chance.

Elliott said: “We’ve given him an entry so we’ll have a look and see.

“He is very well at the moment, so we might run him next week and then go on to Cheltenham after that.”

Don Cossack is entered in the Queen Mother Champion Chase, the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the Ryanair Chase at the Festival, with the latter appearing the most likely.

Elliott’s charge features among 12 entries in a Kinloch Brae field otherwise dominated by Willie Mullins.

The champion trainer has entered the formidable Rich Ricci-owned trio of Ballycasey, Champagne Fever and Djakadam and also has Turban and Twinlight in contention.

Maggio, Make A Track, Rathlin, Rubi Light, Smokey Joe Joe and Texas Jack complete the entries.

On the same card Mullins has entered exciting mare Vroum Vroum Mag in the Grade Two Leading Light Coolmore National Hunt Sires European Breeders Fund Mares Novice Chase.

Meanwhile Sprinter Sacre and Sire De Grugy are the headline acts in a record 33 entries for the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham on March 11.

Last year’s two-mile sensation Sire De Grugy has not been seen since April after a hip injury curtailed his season, while Sprinter Sacre, who won the race in 2013, has been absent for over a year but is on track to return in the Clarence House Chase at Ascot on Saturday week.

National Hunt fans will be salivating by the prospect of the last four winners doing battle as Finian’s Rainbow and Sizing Europe also appear on the list.

Gary Moore is open to running Sire De Grugy over hurdles, should his intended comeback in Newbury’s Game Spirit Chase on February 7 fall victim to the weather.

Moore is pleased Sire De Grugy’s injury was not as bad as first feared but is desperate to get a run into his stable star.

The West Sussex handler told www.betway.co.uk: “We’ve got until February 7 to get him ready for the Game Spirit and he’ll go there unless the ground is firm, and we all know there’s no chance of that.

“If disaster struck and the weather did claim Newbury’s meeting, we’d have to do something with him because there is no chance we could go straight to the Betway Champion Chase without a prep run.

“I could even look to run him in a hurdle race, if necessary, but fingers crossed we don’t have to go down that route.”

Sprinter Sacre’s trainer Nicky Henderson has not entered Simonsig, who has not raced since winning the Arkle in March 2013 and is not expected to run this season.

As well as Sizing Europe, trainer Henry de Bromhead can call upon Kempton winner Special Tiara and Moscow Mannon.

De Bromhead said: “Sizing Europe is well and in good form.

“We are just taking it one race at a time with him at the moment, but it is better to be entered at Cheltenham rather than not. That was our thinking, anyway.

“He is in the Clarence House at Ascot next weekend but I’m not sure if he will travel over. It will all depend on the ground. The Champion Chase is the aim for Special Tiara. He has come out of Kempton very well and is in great form.

“We delighted with him there – it was a brilliant performance – and it was great to get him back on the winning trail again. We still need to think about whether or not he will run again as I haven’t given it a lot of thought yet. We were happy with Moscow Mannon in Leopardstown and he seems to be in good form after the race.

“He will probably go for the Champion Chase as well and I would be hopeful of a good performance.”

Tingle Creek scorer Dodging Bullets is one of several entries, which includes Al Ferof, Hinterland and Mr Mole, for champion trainer Paul Nicholls.

Willie Mullins has entered Champagne Fever, Twinlight, Ballycasey and Turban, but not the novice Vautour, while Don Cossack has been put in by Gordon Elliott.

Compatriot Hidden Cyclone has also been given the option by Shark Hanlon.

Alan King, successful with Voy Por Ustedes in 2007, has two strong contenders in Uxizandre and Balder Succes, while Nicky Richards may run Eduard and Simply Ned.

Henderson does not expect Simonsig to run again this season after the grey was not entered in any of the championship races at the Cheltenham Festival.

Now a nine-year-old, Simonsig has not been seen since winning the Arkle in 2013.

He missed all of last season with a splint problem and Henderson stated recently a new issue had cropped up, putting him out of the picture for the foreseeable future.

The entries for the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase and Ryanair Chase were revealed on Thursday, but Simonsig’s name was not among either of them.

“We’ve pulled stumps for now,” said the Seven Barrows handler. I didn’t bother entering him and I can’t see there’s any reason rushing him back. We do still have the likes of Captain Conan and Finian’s Rainbow to return so hopefully we will be represented in one way or another.

“I’m sure the Game Spirit (Newbury, February 7) will figure for one of them but Finian’s probably needs further than two miles nowadays.”

Cue Card is on course for a bid to regain his crown in the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival after featuring among 39 entries for the £300,000 contest.

Colin Tizzard’s charge was a brilliant winner of the Grade One contest in 2013, but missed last season’s Festival through injury. The nine-year-old has been slightly disappointing since returning to action, finishing down the field in the Haldon Gold Cup, the Betfair Chase and the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day, and he is set to come back in trip.

Tizzard said: “The Ryanair Chase is the target for Cue Card. It looks as though in the very top grade that he does not stay (three miles), so that’s why we are coming back in trip.”

More in this section

Sport
Newsletter

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up
IE_logo_newsletters

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox