Punchestown: Don Cossack takes a dramatic John Durkan
Don Cossack continued his unbeaten run this season with victory in what turned out to be a dramatic Grade 1 John Durkan Memorial Chase. A winner of a Grade 3 at this track and a Grade 2 winner at Down Royal already this season, Gordon Elliott’s charge made the step back into the highest grade here and was made to dig deep to secure victory under Brian O’Connell.
Drama struck as early as the third fence with outsiders, Baily Green and Rathlin, both crashing out and hampering Don Cossack and 11/10 favourite Boston Bob in the process. Don Cossack found himself left in the lead and, despite jumping left at times, was still going well as the field turned for home.
Texas Jack was laying down a big challenge and Boston Bob began to find plenty for pressure under Ruby Walsh but O’Connell eventually drove his mount clear and they had 4 1/2 lengths to spare in the end. Boston Bob finished second, with last year’s Gold Cup winner Lord Windermere staying on nicely on his reappearance run to take third.
Winning trainer, Elliott, said: “That’s great. He deserves that in fairness to him. He’s always gotten plenty of stick and people have said he’s been disappointing, but he’s a dual Grade One winner now.
“I’ll have to talk to Michael and Eddie (O’Leary), but if I had my way he wouldn’t run until Cheltenham and go straight for the Ryanair. I have to discuss it with the owners as they have a lot of horses. He won’t go to the King George.
“He’s a year older now which makes a difference, but he was never a bad horse last year and things didn’t work out for him.
“He might have had a bit much last year and we’ll try and train him differently.
“He had to do it the hard way today. They all came to beat him, but he picked up and galloped all the way to the line.
“I’d said he’ll go any trip once he relaxes. It was a good performance today and we’re happy.”
By Kevin Walsh / Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire
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