Don Cossack: Cheltenham Festival 'not the be all and end all'PICTURE: Patrick McCann (racingpost.com/photos)
Don Cossack not certain for Cheltenham Festival
DON COSSACK, a leading contender in the ante-post lists for the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle and the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle, may not line up in either race at the Cheltenham Festival, with trainer Gordon Elliott in no rush with the six-year-old.
Winner of his first two starts over hurdles, Don Cossack was well beaten by Pont Alexandre when odds-on for the Grade 1 Navan Novice Hurdle before falling at the last, although no problem subsequently came to light.
Elliott, speaking to the Weekender for an exclusive stable tour, said: "I have run every test on him and nothing has shown, although he did come back in very light which is not like him. I believe it was just one of those days, which most of us, and horses, have. He is much better than that, the form book tells us that."
Although Elliott has pencilled in a return to action at the start of next month for Don Cossack, he added: "I initially gave him a two-week break, but he is back hacking steadily and looks fine. He is still a big raw horse, and although we love to have runners at the Cheltenham Festival it is not the be all and end all and it is possible we may not go down that route this year. Chasing will be his game when he could be special."
Don Cossack is as short as 10-1 for the Albert Bartlett and 12-1 for the Neptune. Elliott will still hope to have plenty of runners at the Festival, among them Ladbroke winner Cause Of Causes, who is being readied for the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury next month.
Elliott added: "I would think he will go to Newbury next for the Betfair Hurdle and then all roads lead to Cheltenham. One thing I have learnt in my short time as a trainer is that at the Cheltenham Festival the one ingredient every horse must have in handicaps is experience and this fellow has plenty.
"He also has a great desire to win which all the good ones have. We will enter him in all the big handicaps and see nearer the time which to go for, but if he remains in his current form he will be going there as a very serious player."
To read Gordon Elliott's thoughts on his string, pick up a copy of the Weekender - available to buy from Wednesday