18.40 Punchestown: Don Cossack can triumph in Champion Novice Chase battle
Although only seven go to post for this Grade 1 contest, there are some highly talented types in the line-up and Don Cossack looks decent value to land the spoils.
The Gordon Elliott trained gelding has always been held in the highest regard, and has won two of his six starts over fences this season.
On the second of those, the seven-year-old beat Carlingford Lough in the Grade 1 Drinmore Novice Chase at Fairyhouse and there is no reason why the placings should be reserved.
Although Don Cossack has been beaten by both Ballycasey and Morning Assembly this season, there are reasons to believe that he can come out on top on this occasion.
The key could well be that both the Don’s two wins over fences have come on right-handed tracks.
The son of Sholokhov clearly enjoys going clockwise, and also now gets the services of Barry Geraghty in the saddle for the first time.
Gerrghty has been in irresistible form in recent weeks and looks the ideal partner to get the best out of the Gigginstown House Stud-owned Don Cossack.
Champion Irish trainer Willie Mullins is double handed is treble handed in the contest, but Ballycasey and Djakadam look the pick of the trio.
Ballycasey is bidding to make amends for an untimely fall in the Powers Gold Cup at Fairyhouse recently, where he came down at the second-last when still going well in the lead.
The grey undoubtedly has tons of ability, as he showed when bearting Don Cossack by four lengths in the Dr P.J.Moriarty Chase at Leopardstown back in February.
However, he was allowed to dictate that day in what proved to be a muddling three-runner affair and is unlikely to be allowed the same luxury in this 3m 1f contest.
The seven-year-old, who fell in a schooling session before finishing fourthin the RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, is also yet to convince with his jumping and his stable companion Djkadam could well prove a bigger threat to Don Cossack.
The gelding is a progressive sort, who after winning on his first two starts over fences was still going well and yet to be asked a question when falling four out in a Grade 1 contest at the Cheltenham Festival won by Taquin Du Seuil.
The five-year-old receives a handy 9lb weight allowance in this, and if none the worse for his tumble at Prestbury Park looks sure to go well.