Cossack to bid for second Kinloch before Gold Cup tilt
Gordon Elliott feels that a confidence-boosting turn in next week's Kinloch Brae Chase at Thurles could be pivotal for Don Cossack ahead of his planned Gold Cup tilt in March.
The King George VI Chase casualty remains a popular 5/1 second favourite for the Gold Cup behind Djakadam. Today's re-arranged Thurles card was cancelled yesterday morning due to the usually impermeable track still being waterlogged.
Next Thursday's Grade Two Kinloch Brae fixture is the north Tipperary venue's showpiece event, so the hope would be that the weather will relent sufficiently to permit Don Cossack the chance to secure successive renewals of the race ahead of Cheltenham.
A total of 12 horses have been entered for the €42,500 contest, with Noel Meade's Wounded Warrior and Willie Mullins' Sir Des Champs among six potential starters for Gigginstown Stud along with Don Cossack.
"He came out of the King George very well, but I'd be a little apprehensive going straight to the Gold Cup off the back of a fall," Elliott said in his BoyleSports blog of the possibility of Don Cossack tackling the Kinloch Brae. "If he jumped the first two in the Gold Cup a little nervous it could be all over, so it may be best to give him that run first. Horses are very fit this time of year so we'll just keep ticking him over. Whether he would have won (the King George) or not had he stayed up I don't know, but he definitely would've been close as he was running a good race."
Elliott, who trains four of the Gigginstown contenders, is also believed to be considering whether the application of headgear might help counter Don Cossack's lazy running style. He has already indicated that the Galmoy Hurdle on Thyestes Chase day could be a target for Gigginstown's surprise recent Grade One winner Prince Of Scars.
Re-opposing Prince Of Scars at Gowran Park on January 21 could be the Leopardstown third, Martello Tower, after Mags Mullins indicated that the three-mile Grade Two would be next up for her Cheltenham Festival victor.
"We were delighted with the Leopardstown run as he would have needed it," Mullins reflected of Martello Tower's comeback. "We have to see whether he's good enough in that open class now. He'll go to Gowran for the Galmoy Hurdle, all being well."
Sunday's Tramore card, postponed since New Year's Day, is subject to a 2.0 inspection tomorrow, with parts of the track still waterlogged. A relatively favourable forecast gives the Co Waterford venue a chance, while the omens are also good for tomorrow's Punchestown card, which is expected to feature Mullins's Supreme Novices' Hurdle favourite, Min.
The ground at the Kildare venue is being given as heavy, but there is no inspection planned, and it is a similar story with Fairyhouse's Sunday fixture.
Across the water, today's Wetherby card fell yesterday, as did tomorrow's Wincanton fixture and Sunday's Ffos Las meeting. Officials at Chepstow remain optimistic that tomorrow's delayed Welsh National programme will beat the elements.
The track was yesterday described as fit to race on, but the feature will be brought forward from its scheduled off-time of 3.25 to 1.45 in an effort to have it take place on the best ground.
"The Welsh National will now be the first chase on the card," said clerk of the course, Keith Ottesen. "We had 16 millimetres of rain overnight and the ground is heavy, but the track is race-able. At the moment things are looking very positive, but we obviously need to keep an eye on things."