Don Cossack: has won six of his seven starts this seasonPICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
Don Cossack outbattles Djakadam and Riches
Report: Punchestown, Wednesday
Bibby Financial Services Ireland Punchestown Gold Cup (Grade 1) 3m1f, 5yo+
GORDON ELLIOTT'S stable star Don Cossack capped a remarkable season with a stunning victory in the Punchestown Gold Cup, getting the better of a thrilling battle with Djakadam and Road To Riches who finished second and third as in the Cheltenham equivalent.
It was a sixth win of the season from seven starts for the chaser, whose only blip came in the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival when third.
In registering his third Grade 1 win of the season, and the fourth of his career, Don Cossack also emerged as a genuine Gold Cup candidate for next season. Paddy Power went 6-1 (from 20) for the Cheltenham highlight, while William Hill went 8-1.
Owner Michael O'Leary said: "It was a fantastic race. A terrific training perfromance by Gordon. I'm very happy with Road To Riches, but Gordon seemed to find a little bit more improvement from Don Cossack."
Ruby Walsh had chosen wrong in the day's first Grade 1 and in the Gold Cup it was Bryan Cooper's turn to see a horse he overlooked win. Paul Carberry settled Don Cossack, the owner's second string in this race, towards the rear in the Gigginstown white cap while Cooper set the pace on Road To Riches.
Nothing more than a solid gallop meant that all were still involved exiting the back straight, but the race changed complexion jumping the two up the side of the course when first Ballynagour fell and then the big three asserted, blowing the race apart and setting up the finish all racing fans had hoped for.
They formed a perfect line over two out with all three looking capable of winning, but on the run to the last Don Cossack, who had come around the duelling duo, began to surge clear and a bold jump wrapped things up.
The 5-2 shot ran out a seven length winner from the 2-1 favourite Djakadam, with Road To Riches six and a half lengths further back in third, with the distances belying the competitiveness of the race.
Carberry said: "It was brilliant. He's a serious horse, he jumped great the whole way around. Everything I asked of him he answered."