Tuesday 23 January 2018

Don Cossack to continue rapid ascent

Don Cossack on the gallops ahead of the Cheltenham Racing Festival 2014, as Paul Carberry takes over from AP McCoy (Sportsfile)
Don Cossack on the gallops ahead of the Cheltenham Racing Festival 2014, as Paul Carberry takes over from AP McCoy (Sportsfile)
Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

Djakadam and Road To Riches will strive to advertise the Gold Cup form when they clash in a cracking edition of the Bibby Financial Services equivalent at Punchestown.

Neither could ultimately cope with Coneygree in that gruelling Cotswolds encounter. It was certainly an epic spectacle, so it will be fascinating to see if the form translates now.

On His Own, which finished fifth, has since hosed up at Cork, while the sixth Many Clouds has enjoyed Grand National glory. On His Own, Djakadam and Boston Bob are vying to secure Willie Mullins a hat-trick in this €200,000 Grade One.

Also on duty is Gordon Elliott's superlative Aintree victor Don Cossack, on which Paul Carberry takes over from AP McCoy, with Bryan Cooper sticking with Road To Riches.

Don Cossack's only blip in a progressive campaign came when he looked unlucky at Prestbury Park in March, so it would be some statement if he were to replicate his Liverpool display in such elite company.

3.40 Martinstown Handicap Hurdle 2m 4f

Tony Martin's Cassells Rock will be happier back over this trip, following a solid outing at Leopardstown. Nickname Exit is one of five last-time-out winners on duty. He might be quite smart, while Sea Beat hasn't been firing, so he has dropped to a very fair handicap mark.

Verdict: A chance is taken on Sea Beat bouncing back.

4.20 Louis Fitzgerald Hotel Hurdle 2m 4f

If the top-rated Sadler's Risk can build on his Cork defeat, he ought to go close. He was turned over at short odds there, but it was his first run for a while and the ground was deep. Identity Thief and On Fiddlers Green are novices with potential.

Verdict: Sadler's Risk's best form should be good enough.

4.55 Grade One Novice Hurdle 3m

Shaneshill built on his Cheltenham second to Douvan with a superlative rout at Fairyhouse. A Grade One-winning bumper horse, he shapes as though stamina won't be an issue.

No More Heroes was unlucky at Cheltenham. He is a dour stayer with no shortage of class.

There is little to choose between the rest.

Verdict: Shaneshill has to be kept on side for now.

5.30 Bibby Financial Services Gold Cup 3m 1f

Djakadam ran his heart out in the Gold Cup. The rain came in time for him and he lost nothing in failing to overhaul Coneygree. He has had a light campaign otherwise and is clearly an emerging force, though his chance would improve if the ground turns.

Road To Riches arguably had an even harder race at Cheltenham and has been on the go a long time. It was a tremendous effort to keep on for third on ground he wouldn't have relished. Whether this will be a bridge too far is impossible to call, but if the rain holds off his prospects would be enhanced.

Ballynagour has had a light season, too. He only just failed to collar Silviniaco Conti at Aintree, so he has a chance.

On His Own bounced back from a solid Gold Cup fifth to scoot up at Cork. If the principals don't fire, he is well capable of picking up the pieces.

Cue Card was no match for Don Cossack at Aintree, where Gordon Elliott's charge regained the winning thread really impressively. If that didn't knock the edge off Don Cossack, he must be a real player, notwithstanding that he has to definitively prove that he possesses sufficient stamina.

Verdict: Don Cossack appeals as being on an upward curve.

6.05 Attheraces.com Champion Bumper 2m

Modus's Cheltenham second to Moon Racer was the pick of some smart bumper runs. He found plenty, so he is sure to figure prominently again here.

Bellshill filled the same berth at Aintree, while Pylonthepressure stretched his unbeaten record to three with a smooth win at Naas in February. Charbel, Disko and Altior are among others with real potential.

Verdict: Pylonthepressure (nap) could be hard to beat.

6.40 Guinness Handicap Chase 2m 4f

Bright New Dawn reverts to handicap company for a first time since chasing Mallowney home at Fairyhouse in January.

He is 5lb higher and no forlorn hope. Rathlin finished ahead of him at Navan subsequently and ran well over the big fences at Aintree, while Turban fell there. Baby Mix returned to catch the eye in Liverpool. He is well treated.

Verdict: Gavin Sheehan could get a tune out of Baby Mix.

7.15 Old House Kill INH Flat Race 2m 2f

David Pipe sends Champers On Ice back for his track bow. He won a point-to-point well and was then sold for £205,000.

Arkwrisht will appreciate this longer trip, while First Figaro ran a blinder when second on his Leopardstown debut.

Verdict - First Figaro appeals for the excellent Finny Maguire.

Irish Independent

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