Gordon Elliott reports Don Cossack ‘bouncing’ ahead of Ryanair Chase bid

Gordon Elliott reports Don Cossack to be “bouncing” ahead of his bid to cap a fantastic season in the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham next month.

Gordon Elliott reports Don Cossack ‘bouncing’ ahead of Ryanair Chase bid

The County Meath-based trainer has never made any secret of the regard in which he holds the eight-year-old and he has come of age this term, winning each of his four starts including the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase in December.

He was a wide-margin winner of the Kinloch Brae Chase at Thurles last month following the final-fence fall of main rival Champagne Fever and he will now bid to provide Michael O’Leary, owner of Gigginstown House Stud and Ryanair, with a first victory in the race he sponsors at the Festival.

“He’s bouncing and we couldn’t be happier with him,” Elliott told At The Races.

“He’s been great this season. He’s just been a different horse and is finishing his races out better and looks better.

“He’s just so big he could have been a bit weak and watery (last season).

“We haven’t done much work with him (since Thurles), but he’s coming off the gallop in great order and he’s eating great and doing everything right.

“We’re looking forward to Cheltenham and it would be nice to win the race for the sponsor.”

Willie Mullins has raised the possibility of Champion Hurdle favourite Faugheen taking in the Red Mills Trial Hurdle at Gowran Park on Saturday week.

The seven-year-old is a red-hot favourite for the two-mile championship on the opening day of next month’s Cheltenham Festival after taking his unbeaten record over timber to seven in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton on Boxing Day.

Mullins is thrilled with how his charge is performing on the gallops ahead of his trip to Prestbury Park in a little under five weeks and will discuss with stable jockey Ruby Walsh whether to give him more match practice ahead of the big day.

“We’re looking at the Red Mills. I think there’s one other contest left in England. We’ll just keep all our options open,” the champion trainer told At The Races.

“The horse is in good form. We’ll probably have a chat with Ruby in the next day or so to see if he needs more experience, but at the moment I’m very happy with him.”

Faugheen is set to be joined in the Champion Hurdle line-up by his incredible stable companion Hurricane Fly, who clinched his fifth victory in last month’s Irish Champion Hurdle amid wonderful scenes at Leopardstown.

Now an 11-year-old, the odds appear to be stacked against the 22-time Grade One winner as he chases a third Champion Hurdle victory as to do so he will have to become the first horse in history to regain the crown twice.

Mullins said: “If he was a year younger, or maybe two or three years, he’d be favourite, wouldn’t he?

“He’s done everything he’s been asked, he’s beaten the reigning Champion Hurdler (Jezki).

“His age is the only thing against him, and possibly people feel Cheltenham is not his track, yet he’s won twice there.

“I’m going to give him the respect he’s earned, anyway.”

Dynaste will not defend his crown in the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham next month after being ruled out for the season.

David Pipe’s nine-year-old beat Hidden Cyclone at the Festival last year and was being prepared for a return to Prestbury Park, having most recently finished third to Many Clouds in the BetBright Cup Chase at the Cotswolds venue, after which he returned sore.

His jockey Tom Scudamore said: “David rang me this morning to tell me he would miss Cheltenham and it’s obviously a big blow.

“It’s a bit of a downer but hopefully he’ll be back better than ever next season.”

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