Don's Ryanair prospects enhanced as Dynaste is ruled out
Don Cossack's position at the head of the betting for the Ryanair Chase hardened as Gordon Elliott issued an upbeat bulletin on the same day that his main market rival Dynaste was ruled out for the rest of the season with an injury.
Last year's Ryanair hero Dynaste had been contesting favouritism with Elliott's Gigginstown Stud-owned eight-year-old, but David Pipe revealed that the grey is now sidelined.
"Unfortunately, Dynaste finished very sore behind after his race at Cheltenham last month and has failed to make sufficient recovery," Pipe explained of his nine-year-old.
"We have decided to call time with him as it's far too close to Cheltenham and Aintree. It's nothing serious but he's too good to risk and the chances are good for him to be back for a full season come next autumn."
Don Cossack, which has impressed greatly in going unbeaten in a Grade One, two Grade Twos and a Grade Three this term, was cut from as big as 5/1 to as low as 7/2 clear market leader to claim a first Irish success in the 10-year-old two-mile-five-furlong race that his owner Michael O'Leary sponsors.
Colin Tizzard's 2013 Ryanair victor Cue Card is next best at 7/1, followed by Willie Mullins' Champagne Fever at up to 10/1.
Don Cossack fell at the 14th fence in last year's RSA Chase when bang in contention, and Elliott spoke glowingly of his well-being yesterday following his Kinloch Brae success at Thurles a fortnight ago.
"He's bouncing and we couldn't be happier with him," the Co Meath handler declared. "He has been great this season - he has just been a different horse and is finishing his races out better and looks better.
"We haven't done much work with him (since Thurles), but he's coming off the gallop in great order and he's eating great and doing everything right. We're looking forward to Cheltenham and it would be nice to win the race for the sponsor."
Philip Hobbs' smart novice chaser Champagne West was also ruled out for the remainder of the campaign yesterday, as it emerged that he had injured a hock during an error-strewn round that ended with a fall at Sandown on Saturday.
Meanwhile, the reigning Gold Cup winner Lord Windermere is among 25 Irish-trained entries that have been unveiled among a total of 98 for this year's Grand National at Aintree on April 11.
Should Jim Culloty elect to run the nine-year-old, he would be striving to become the first Gold Cup victor to win the race since Dan Moore's L'Escargot famously denied Red Rum a National hat-trick in 1975.
Culloty's 2014 Kim Muir winner Spring Heeled is the lowest-priced Irish horse in the ante-post betting for the £1m Crabbie's-sponsored event at 25/1.
Back In Focus, one of four Willie Mullins entries, trades at similar odds despite not having run yet this term.