Gordon Elliott plans to give Don Cossack just one run before he defends his Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup crown next March — as long as the star chaser shows sufficient progress in his recovery from injury.
The nine-year-old is well on the road to recovery from a tendon problem, but Elliott has reiterated that the six-times Grade One scorer will be retired if it looks as though he might not reach the heights to which he has grown accustomed.
“He scanned OK a few weeks ago,” the County Meath handler said.
“I think he could be back within a month, then he’ll start on roadwork.
“He’ll probably do eight weeks of that, get re-scanned and if everything is OK we’ll start back with him then — but everything will have to be 110%.
“It’ll be day by day.
“If he stays OK, he’ll be back and if he doesn’t, he’ll have a happy retirement.
“If the horse is 110% the plan would be to have one run — I’m not sure where yet — and then the Gold Cup, but if he’s not 110% he’ll be retired.
“He doesn’t owe us anything.”
Meanwhile, Don Cossack’s old adversary Cue Card is on course to make his seasonal reappearance in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby on October 29.
Victory in the West Yorkshire showpiece last autumn ignited a tremendous campaign for Colin Tizzard’s stable stalwart, with the 10-year-old going on to land the Betfair Chase at Haydock and the King George VI Chase at Kempton before a costly fall in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
He bounced back to win at Aintree before suffering defeat at Punchestown and is reported in rude health following a summer break.
“Cue Card is fine and having brought him back in early last year, we thought we’d do the same this year, so he came back on July 1,” said Tizzard.
“He’s cantering now and will do that for six weeks or so.
“He’s also getting two or three hours out in the paddock every day.
“He’s a 10-year-old now, so we want to look after him and if we do that hopefully we can have him in the same form as he was last season.
“We’ll be sticking to the same plan, hopefully starting off at Wetherby again.”
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