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can't say no to the don

If you think the countdown to Christmas gets earlier every year, try the countdown to Cheltenham.

The build-up to the greatest show in National Hunt racing seems to begin a shade earlier every year and so much so that the odds comparison website Oddschecker even have a countdown clock which tells you - to the second - how long it is until the roar goes up and they're off in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle.

For those of you who tend not to regularly check in on such things, you'll be delighted to know that it's just the 20 days until Christmas and 94 until Cheltenham and two Grade One races over the weekend could have a fair impact on what goes on at Christmas and at Cheltenham.

Because the 2013/14 Irish National Hunt season ended a week later than the British season, God's Own is still entitled to run in novice company on his homeland, despite landing the Grade One Ryanair Novice Chase at Punchestown back in May.

Despite his novice status, the lack of a headline two-mile chaser at the present moment means that Tom George is rightfully throwing him into the Tingle Creek at Sandown tomorrow afternoon.

The thing is, should Sprinter Sacre and Sire De Grugy fail to make it back to Cheltenham, God's Own may be better heading down the Champion Chase route rather than the Arkle where he could have to meet Un De Sceaux or Vautour but a lot of water has to go under the bridge before all of that is settled on.

Punchestown is the host of domestic Grade One action this weekend and what a renewal of the John Durkan this is.

Ireland's first Cheltenham Gold Cup winner since 2006, Lord Windermere will kick off his season but he's only fifth in the market according to some bookmakers, with Jim Culloty expressing concerns over the trip for his first run of the campaign.

You'll get nothing more than a rake of Best Turned Out awards for being a good-looking horse in racing, as the result on the track is all that matters, but Don Cossack is now starting to not only mop up the Best Turned Outs but also his races. Having won his last two rather convincingly, the Grade One winning novice could be starting to fulfil the extremely high regard his trainer Gordon Elliott has always held him in.

You can back Don Cossack at 33/1 for the King George and the same price for the Gold Cup if you shop around. I promise you'll back worse 33/1 shots but maybe have a saver on the Ryanair at 14/1.

No offers on him getting Best Turned Out, unfortunately.


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