Saturday 21 April 2018

Blockbuster Punchestown on the cards with Don Cossack, Cue Card and Vautour set to battle in Gold Cup


Michael Verney

A mouthwatering finale to the National Hunt season is in store with equine superstars Don Cossack, Cue Card and Vautour set to collide in the €200,000 Grade 1 Bibby Financial Services Ireland Punchestown Gold Cup on Wednesday April 27.

The trio have met just once before and it provided an epic spectacle with Cue Card staying on strongest to pip Vautour in the King George VI Chase on St Stephen's Day, with subsequent Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Don Cossack falling two from home when closing on the leaders.

Don Cossack excelled in a piece of work at Punchestown this morning and his trainer Gordon Elliott says it's "all systems go" as the Meath maestro looks to add further silverware after a maiden blue riband success.

"We will have one more good bit of work after today and then it's all systems go for Punchestown. We won the race last year so it would obviously be great to win it again but he owes us nothing having won a Cheltenham Gold Cup."

Cue Card's trainer Colin Tizzard, who watched his charge bolt up in the Betfred Bowl at Aintree on Thursday, will be hoping to atone for his fall three out in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

He was travelling menacingly when hitting th deck in the hands of Paddy Brennan and Tizzard, who is also set to send World Hurdle winner Thistlecrack to Punchestown, believes Cue Card is "in the form of his life".

"The plan always was to go on to Punchestown and I don't see any reason to change that. He fell at Cheltenham and mentally didn't have a hard race and he also didn't have too hard a race at Aintree.

"He won by eight lengths without ever seeming to do much and he came out of it fine. He's in the form of his life so there's no reason not to go."

The fly in the ointment could well be Willie Mullins' classy Vautour, who was rerouted to the Ryanair Chase at the eleventh hour at Cheltenham before producing a jaw-dropping round of jumping to scorch to victory.

Despite falling at Aintree last Friday when 1/5 favourite in the JLT Melling Chase, Mullins expects him to take his chance providing his home work is up to speed.

With Mullins also set to run Champion Hurdle winner Annie Power, the stage is set for five fantastic days of racing, the highlight of which would be a blockbuster Gold Cup if all three stars show up on the day.

Online Editors

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