Don Cossack faces 13 rivals as he puts his unbeaten record on the line in the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival tomorrow.
Gordon Elliott’s charge has won each of his four starts this season, including the Grade One John Durkan Chase at Punchestown back in December and his recent 44-length stroll in the Kinloch Brae at Thurles in January.
The Nicky Henderson-trained Ma Filleule has been the subject of support in recent days and she will clash again with Alan King’s Balder Succes, who had her back in second in the Ascot Chase on their most recent outing.
Ascot third Ballycasey tries his luck for Willie Mullins again in a race that also features last year’s runner-up Hidden Cyclone from Shark Hanlon’s yard and recent Irish Hennessy runner-up Foxrock for Ted Walsh. King also runs Uxizandre, with Jonjo O’Neill double-handed with last year’s JLT Chase hero Taquin Du Seuil and multiple course winner Johns Spirit.
Double Ross, Eduard, Third Intention, Wishfull Thinking and Wonderful Charm complete the line-up.
Meanwhile Paul Nicholls fires two barrels in Zarkandar and Saphir Du Rheu as he looks to win the Ladbrokes World Hurdle tomorrow for a fifth time.
All of the Ditcheat trainer’s four wins in the three-mile championship to date came from the brilliant Big Buck’s from 2009 to 2012, and his two runners head the market at around 4-1 in what looks a very open year.
Zarkandar won a Grade One at Auteuil in November before being touched off by Reve De Sivola in the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot in December, while Saphir Du Rheu narrowly defeated the latter in the Cleeve Hurdle over the course and distance in January. Ireland are strongly represented in a 17-runner field, with Abbyssial, Dedigout, Jetson, Lieutenant Colonel, Monksland, Tiger Roll and Zaidpour.
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