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Test

Thurles: Cossack profits from Fever fall

The Gordon Elliott trained Don Cossack profited from a final fence fall from main rival Champagne Fever to take the Grade 2 Kinloch Brae Chase at Thurles. Unbeaten in three starts to date this season, Don Cossack is towards the head of the market for Cheltenham’s Ryanair Chase, a position he cemented with another fine, if slightly fortunate winning performance today.

 

Just four runners went to post for the 2m 4f contest, with Don Cossack and Champagne Fever taking on last year’s winner Texas Jack and 150/1 shot Smokey Joe Joe. It was billed as a straight match-up between 4/5 favourite Champagne Fever and 6/4 chance Don Cossack and that proved to be the case from the off as the pair went head to head out in front.

 

Champagne Fever, dropping back in trip after a decent effort in the King George last time, was sent to the front by Ruby Walsh but Bryan Cooper was never letting his rival too far ahead on board Don Cossack. Both leading Cheltenham hopes put in fine rounds of jumping off of a good pace throughout and were still going toe to toe on the turn in.

 

Champagne Fever looked to be getting the better of the battle on the run in, particularly when his rival made a slight mistake of the second last. Cooper galvanized his charge after the blunder and they were applying plenty of pressure again towards the last where Champagne Fever tipped up and fell on landing. This left Don Cossack to roll home an easy winner from Texas Jack, with Smokey Joe Joe, who had fallen at the last, finishing third having been remounted by Ger Fox.

 

Winning jockey, Cooper said: “It was a great race and rode a good race. I thought I had the beating of him (Champagne Fever). He (Don Cossack) missed the second-last, but 20 yards from the last he picked up and rallied and I was quite confident I had the better of him.

 

“You have to wind him up properly before you go for him and I didn’t want to get done for toe by Champagne Fever, so I took Ruby on early as I knew he’d keep going and he did it well.

 

“He is improving. Because of the size of him he was only a frame of a horse last year and I’m just delighted for Gordon and the team who do a great job with him.

 

“Hopefully we’ll get there (Cheltenham) in one piece.”

 

Trainer Elliott added: “He’s done everything right this year and he had a proper test today. He might have been even more of a test than the John Durkan as Champagne Fever is a classy horse.

 

“It’s a shame he fell as you don’t know what would have happened, but Bryan thought he had him covered and I was standing at the last (fence) and I thought we had, but you never know and you have to jump.

 

“The one thing I liked about the horse today, and all season, is that from the last to the line he’s finishing his races really strongly.

 

“He’ll go to Cheltenham. He’s in the three big races, but I’d say all being well it will be the Ryanair and he’ll handle any ground.

 

“I got very excited when he was a novice and being a young lad I was saying he was the best I had. Maybe he will turn out to be.

 

“I’m just thrilled to have a horse like this.”

 


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