Michael O’Leary to leave Don Cossack headgear decision to Gordon Elliott

Michael O’Leary is happy to leave the decision whether his star chaser Don Cossack wears any headgear in the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup to trainer Gordon Elliott.

Michael O’Leary to leave Don Cossack headgear decision to Gordon Elliott

The County Meath handler revealed he had worked Don Cossack in cheekpieces before his latest victory in the Kinloch Brae Chase at Thurles but is going to wait until the blue riband event in March before using them in public.

“I’ll leave that to Gordon. If he feels the horse needs cheekpieces then fine and if he doesn’t I won’t lose any sleep over it,” O’Leary, who owns a powerful string of horses under his Gigginstown House Stud banner, said.

“He went to Cheltenham, Aintree and Punchestown last year without cheekpieces and beat everything in sight (at the last two), but if Gordon thinks he needs cheekpieces then he will put them on.

"Gordon is a good-enough trainer. It’s not for me to tell him what to do.

“I would treasure any Grade One in Cheltenham equally. I’ll certainly have something in the Ryanair, maybe one or two the way it’s panning out, and hopefully two or three in the Gold Cup.

“There’s no point in planning yet. We’ll wait and see what the ground is like Cheltenham week.

"It was looking good for Road To Riches last year and then it came up soft on the Friday which didn’t suit him.

“No decision has been made on what is going where until probably the week of Cheltenham when we see what is fit and well and what the ground there is like.”

Meanwhile Coneygree is likely to be ridden out in the next two weeks as the Cheltenham Gold Cup hero continues on the road to recovery.

The Mark Bradstock-trained nine-year-old was a brilliant winner on his seasonal reappearance at Sandown in early November, but missed the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury later that month 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 returned to Bradsock’s Oxfordshire yard over Christmas and is delighting his trainer with his progress.

“I’m really pleased with him.

"We’re just starting leading him out and we’ll probably start riding him out again in 10 days or a fortnight to get his rehabilitation going again,” said Bradstock.

“We’re taking it steady. We’ve got all the time in the world.”

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