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Gordon Elliott names the 2016 Cheltenham Gold Cup danger to Don Cossack

Jon Wilde in Fri. 17th March 3 Mar 2016
  • Don Cossack is the ante-post favourite for the 2016 Cheltenham Gold Cup
  • Trainer Gordon Elliott has named the rival he fears most
Don Cossack (credit: Cheltenhampro.com)

Trainer Gordon Elliott has revealed which rival to his Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup favourite Don Cossack he fears most – and not surprisingly it comes from the Willie Mullins team.

Irish raiders could dominate the 2016 Cheltenham Gold Cup because they comprise four of the first five horses in the betting, and three of them are in the care of the all-conquering Mullins.

Vautour and Don Poli are strongly fancied from the County Carlow yard, while King George VI Chase hero Cue Card heads the English challenge, but it is Djakadam about whom Elliott is most concerned as he prepares to bid for glory with his 4/1 market leader Don Cossack.

Elliott said:
“I have massive respect for Cue Card but Djakadam is the one that really worries me. He was second in the race last year (to Coneygree) and he stays.”

A jockey for Don Cossack has yet to be confirmed because Bryan Cooper, the retained rider for owners Gigginstown House Stud, also has the choice of Don Poli and the Noel Meade-trained Road To Riches.

But it is something Elliott is refusing to become too concerned about in the build-up to the big day at Cheltenham on Friday March 18.

The trainer added:
“I hope Bryan chooses to ride Don Cossack. But the Mullins factor is a lot higher than the Elliott factor and if Willie has had three winners on day one …” 
“Davy Russell rode Don Cossack in the schooling session around Leopardstown on Sunday, mainly because I thought it would be more useful if Bryan rode (RSA Chase favourite) No More Heroes. So Davy is there and Barry Geraghty and Richard Johnson don’t have rides yet, so we won’t be short of choices. Bryan won’t make up his mind up until two days before the race.”

Elliott is very unlikely to put cheekpieces on nine-year-old Don Cossack, who has a tendency to race a bit lazily in the middle part of his races.

“If the ground is better he won’t need them,” he added. “I used to think he was a mudlark but I was wrong. He is much better on good going. 
“And I’m not worried about his Cheltenham record – he was going well when he fell in the RSA Chase and even Bryan would admit he gave him a deplorable ride when he was third in the Ryanair. It wasn’t his finest moment but he knows what to do.”

Reflecting on Don Cossack’s fall at the penultimate fence in the King George VI Chase, Elliott said:
“I was only happy with the way he was going for the first time in the race 200 yards before he fell. At that stage we were coming to go past Cue Card and Ruby (Walsh) was cantering on Vautour.”


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Gordon Elliott names the 2016 Cheltenham Gold Cup danger to Don Cossack

Trainer Gordon Elliott has revealed which rival to his Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup favourite Don Cossack he fears most – and not surprisingly it comes from the Willie Mullins team.

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