Cooper remembers Hughes after Don's Gold Cup triumph
Don Cossack yesterday capitalised on the dramatic exit of Cue Card to storm to Timico Gold Cup glory under an inspired Bryan Cooper.
On the final day of the Cheltenham Festival, the high-class chaser trained by Gordon Elliott was one of three strongly supported Irish winners. The middle leg of a 46/1 treble bookended by the JP McManus-owned duo Ivanovich Gorbatov and On The Fringe, Don Cossack led home an Irish one-two-three-four in the £575,000 Grade One.
The exit of Cue Card - which had been chasing a £1m bonus - at the third-last again deprived racing fans of a conclusive verdict between two of the sport's heavyweight chasers.
In the King George VI Chase, it was Don Cossack that departed when the race was in the balance. Hopefully, we might yet get to see them slug it out somewhere, but yesterday was Don Cossack's day.
Cooper excelled on the Michael O'Leary-owned winner, which helped the raiders match the 2013 record of 14 wins. Due to a first 28-race programme, there was an equal share of the spoils with the British horses, an angle that was promoted this year for the BetBright Prestbury Cup.
With 22-year-old Joseph O'Brien also heavily involved in getting his father Aidan back among the Festival winners courtesy of Ivanovich Gorbatov's Triumph Hurdle stroll, it was a day for the game's rising stars.
In his finest hour, Cooper, who is just a year older, paid tribute to his late mentor Dessie Hughes.
"I wouldn't be in this position if it wasn't for Dessie," he said, "and he was definitely cheering me on over the last."
Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh, second again in the Gold Cup with Djakadam, didn't add to their seven-winner hauls. However, both topped their respective tables, Mullins for a fifth time and Walsh for a 10th.