Dual Cheltenham hero to join Don on Thurles card
Don Cossack will be the main attraction at Thurles tomorrow but a horse that has twice succeeded where Gordon Elliott's charge has failed could also add to the occasion.
Cheltenham in March has been a distinct source of frustration to date for connections of Don Cossack, which will strive to complete its Gold Cup preparations on a positive note in the Kinloch Brae Chase. In contrast, Salsify is a dual winner of the Foxhunter Chase at the Festival.
Now an 11-year-old, he returned from over a year on the sidelines last term, but the quest for an unprecedented hat-trick ended in failure. Should Salsify run in the Arctic Tack Stud Hunter Chase, he will need a new jockey due to the retirement of Colman Sweeney, whose father Rodger has concerns about the ground, which has officially dried a little to soft to heavy.
"He is entered at Thurles but I don't know whether I will run him or not," Sweeney admitted of Salsify. "He is just tipping away at the moment. The ground would probably be a bit too heavy for him. We are just going to take it day by day with him."
In what has been a season of equine comebacks, it would be interesting to see if Salsify can recapture some of the magic that simply wasn't there in either of last season's outings.
Thurles is also one of three venues that has been allocated a replacement fixture to atone for recent abandonments. An all-hurdle card will take place there on Wednesday, January 27, while, as a result, the scheduled card the following day will revert to an all chase fixture. Tramore has acquired a substitute card on Tuesday the 26th and Limerick will also now race on Wednesday, February 10.
Ross O'Sullivan, meanwhile, has decided to swerve next week's Goffs Thyestes Chase with last Saturday's Conyngham Cup heroine Baie Des Iles. Third to Morning Run in a Fairyhouse Grade Three Hurdle on her debut last year for the Kildare handler, the French import subsequently disappointed a little in three further starts.
However, having just turned five, the mare came with a late flourish last weekend to score on her first start for O'Sullivan over fences at Punchestown.
"I've spoken to a few people with connections in France and they seem to be saying that some horses need a break when they arrive in Ireland, as they've had hard three and four-year-old careers," O'Sullivan mused.
"I stopped with Baie Des Iles last April and she had a good break, but she is still only five and is already 17 hands. She's only now starting to get stronger now and with soft ground the key to her, you'd be dreaming of winning races like the Welsh National or Midlands National at Uttoxeter.
"She could also be an Irish National type mare but not this year; Organisedconfusion won it as a six-year-old, you have to go back to Rhyme 'n' Reason (in 1985) for another six-year-old winner."
"The Thyestes and some of the other big handicaps might come a year too soon with Baie Des Iles, but I'm looking at the Grand National Trial at Punchestown for her next."