Cheltenham Festival 2015: Ryanair Chase preview (14:40)
Don Cossack has looked the real deal this season, and can provide Ireland with their first winner of the Ryanair Chase (14:40).
The Gordon Elliott trained eight-year-old has won his last four starts in good style, and was most impressive when beating Boston Bob by four lengths in the Grade 1 John Durkan Memorial Chase at Punchestown.
Don Cossack jumped well and only had to be driven out by jockey Bryan Cooper to win with more in hand than the winning margin suggests, and the form looks strong as the third home was last year’s Gold Cup winner Lord Windermere.
This selection then looked to have the measure of Champagne Fever when that one came to grief at the final fence in a Grade 2 contest at Thurles last time out when strolling to a 44 length success.
Today’s 2m 5f trip looks ideal for Don Cossack, and the Giggistown House Stud owned gelding has a rock solid profile and is going to be a very tough to beat.
Fellow Irish raider Foxrock has been supplemented for the race by owner Barry Connell and looks a big danger here.
Trained by Ted Walsh, this gelding has won four and been placed five times in 10 starts over fences, and is unbeaten in two starts over today’s trip.
The seven-year-old also comes into the contest having posted a career-best effort in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Leopardstown last month when a 3/4 length runner-up to leading Gold Cup hope Carlingford Lough.
Off an official rating of 164, Foxrock is rated just 2lb lower than Don Cossack, and form of his run in the Irish Hennessy also looks strong as the front two pulled eight lengths clear of Lord Windermere.
Another worthy of a mention is last year’s runner-up Hidden Cyclone.
The 10-year-old found only Dynaste to good 12 months ago when going down by 2 1/4 lengths, and looked better than ever when easily winning the Tied Cottage Chase at Punchestown last month by five lengths from Bright New Dawn.
That win left connections contemplating a crack at the Queen Mother Chase but, following the defections of previous winners Cue Card and Dynaste, trainer Shark Hanlon believes this year’s renewal is wide open and represents a good chance for Hidden Cyclone to go one better.