Kinloch Brae Chase an option for Don Cossack

Gordon Elliott has nominated the Kinloch Brae Chase at Thurles as a possible option for Don Cossack before the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Kinloch Brae Chase an option for Don Cossack

The highest rated chaser in training was far from finished in the King George VI Chase won by Cue Card when he crashed out at the second-last fence.

Initially Elliott mentioned heading straight to Prestbury Park, but the Kinloch Brae in the middle of next month has now emerged as a possible target.

“Don Cossack is fine,” said Elliott.

“There’s not a bother on him. We might think about going to Thurles for the race he won last year.”

Willie Mullins meanwhile does notbelieve a lack of stamina was to blame for Arctic Fire’s defeat at Leopardstown on Monday.

The Champion Hurdle runner-up was sent off the 5-4 favourite on his first run over three miles in the Squared Financial Christmas Hurdle.

Ruby Walsh gave him his usual patient ride but he was unable to close the gap in the straight as Gordon Elliott’s Prince Of Scars caused a minor surprise.

Mullins, though, does not feel the six-year-old was in the best of health.

“I don’t think he was right, I’m expecting something to show up over the next couple of days,” Mullins told At The Races.

“He was never going, he wouldn’t have won over two miles, two and a half or three.

“You couldn’t say he didn’t stay after that performance.”

Connections of Coneygree are confident he will return next season as good as ever after the injured Gold Cup hero returned to his Oxfordshire home over the Christmas period.

The Mark Bradstock-trained eight-year-old was a brilliant winner on his seasonal reappearance at Sandown, but missed the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury in November and has since been ruled out for the remainder of the campaign due to hock issues.

After spending time at the Newmarket Equine Hospital, Coneygree is continuing to recover at Bradstock’s Wantage yard.

Sara Bradstock, the trainer’s wife and assistant, said: “He’s back home and everything is good.

“We’re just starting the long rehabilitation period and we’re not in any rush, having decided not to run again this season.

“He obviously had the bruised foot before we were planning to run in the Hennessy and you often find something comes out in the wash later on – obviously that has been the case.

“He’ll have eight weeks walking, then we’ll hopefully be able to do a bit of cantering with him.

“We’ll probably let him out for some spring grass, give him the summer off and bring him back early to make sure he is at his best for the start of next season.

“We know he’s brilliant, but we also know he’s fragile. That was one of the mini-reasons we decided to go for the Gold Cup last season.

“If you watch the replay of the Gold Cup, you can see him powering up the Cheltenham hill being powered by his back legs, a bit like a grasshopper.

“The faster they go, the more prone they are to these little things, but he’ll definitely be back.

“It’s been a frustrating Christmas as I haven’t seen a race I don’t think he could have won.

“The horse himself is a little bit cross about it all – he’s not too keen on this not-galloping malarkey!”

Nicky Richards may skip the Queen Mother Champion Chase with Simply Ned this season.

The eight-year-old appeared set to be the beneficiary of Un De Sceaux’s fall in the the Grade One two-mile chase at Leopardstown on Monday but was caught late on by Flemenstar.

A trip back to Ireland could beckon next, or Newbury for the Game Spirit Chase.

“He’s always been the type of horse who doesn’t like being in front too long and it was a case of being thrown in the deep blue ocean,” said RIchards.

“What could Brian (Harding) have done? If he’d been sat in third tracking Flemenstar I’m sure he’d have won, but Brian said if Un De Sceaux hadn’t have fallen we’d have been second at worst.

“Even if Flemenstar had come at him earlier, he would have fought back because when the loose horse came at him he went again.

“He’s such a grand horse, so consistent and doesn’t get the credit he deserves. If anything I think he punches a little above his weight taking on all these Grade One horses, yet people say he has been found wanting.

“Flemenstar was the big thing three years ago and they reckon that was the first time they’ve had him right since.

“There used to be a valuable handicap at Doncaster which would have been perfect for him, but it’s been scrapped.

“Our thinking now is that all the big boys will be heading to Cheltenham – Un De Sceaux, Sprinter Sacre, Sire De Grugy and Dodging Bullets – so we might just give it a miss this year.

“You’re not just taking on one champion, you’d be taking on four or five.

“We’ll either go to Naas for a Grade Two in February or the Game Spirit next.”

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