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Don in top form to see off rivals

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Mala Beach, with Robbie Colgan up, on their way to winning the Buy Your Go Racing In Kildare Badge Beginners Steeplechase. Punchestown

Mala Beach, with Robbie Colgan up, on their way to winning the Buy Your Go Racing In Kildare Badge Beginners Steeplechase. Punchestown

Mala Beach, with Robbie Colgan up, on their way to winning the Buy Your Go Racing In Kildare Badge Beginners Steeplechase. Punchestown

If you have doubters to silence, beating the current Cheltenham Gold Cup and Punchestown Gold Cup holders in Grade One company is a fair way to do it.

With Cheltenham hero Lord Windermere and Aintree and Punchestown winner Boston Bob in the line-up, second season novice Don Cossack had a lot on his plate when taking on the big guns for the first time.

Beforehand it looked to be one of the most intriguing renewals of the John Durkan in recent years and from a very early stage it would turn out to be one of the most eventful.

The Mouse Morris trained Baily Green led the way and was followed in second by stable companion Rathlin until both took crashing falls at the third fence, leaving Boston Bob to be badly hampered and Don Cossack to take up the running under Brian O'Connell.

MISTAKE

From that moment Don Cossack wouldn't see another rival and although it appeared after a mistake at the third last and when his rivals were queueing in behind going to the last that he would fall short, the seven-year-old showed real class to pull away again and score by four-and-a-half lengths at the line.

"Everyone has always said that he's a disappointing horse but to me he is very good and he's won two Grade 1s now and I certainly would love to have a barn full of horses like him," Elliott told the Herald. "I thought coming to the last he was beat but he went on again and he couldn't do anymore could he?"

The bookmakers reaction saw Don Cossack cut to 10/1 for the Ryanair Chase with Ladbrokes and he's now 8/1 from 10/1 with Boylesports and that will be his next destination if the winning trainer has his way.

"I'd love to put him away now and come back for the Ryanair at Cheltenham but I'll have to talk to Michael and Eddie (O'Leary) as they have a lot of horses and we'll see what they want to do."

Don Cossack is now three from three for the season and Elliott added; "He won a Gade One last year but I suppose things just didn't happen for him - he fell at Cheltenham, finished second at Aintree and probalby had enough by the time he got back here for the Festival."

For winning jockey Brian O'Connell it was a fourth career Grade One win and a third in the Gigginstown colours and stepping in for the suspended Bryan Cooper "is what makes it all worth while" he said following the race.

"The horse was very good as it wasn't ideal when he was left in front and one of the loose horses jumped across me at one fences but after that they actually helped me and after getting in a bit tight to the third last he recovered well and it was a very good performance by the horse."

IMPRESSIVE

It was a good afternoon for Elliott who also won the beginners chase on the card with the impressive looking Mala Beach who was a 16-length victor in a race that Un Atout was sent off the odds on favourite.

Another horse that Elliott has always held in high regard, Mala Beach could prove an ideal type for the four-miler at Cheltenham in March.

"I know Un Atout made a very bad mistake but this is a fair horse this fella," Elliott said.

"He's in all the novices at Christmas but I'll have to talk to his owner Chris Jones as he's away at Christmas. The further he goes the better and I do think he's a real nice horse."

Davy Russell said of Gold Cup winner Lord Windermere who finished third; "Without winning I couldn't be happier."


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