Don delivers in dramatic Durkan
Don Cossack maintained his unbeaten record this season with a third victory from as many starts in a dramatic renewal of the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase.
Gordon Elliott's seven-year-old, a Grade One winner as a novice a year ago, was settled in third by Brian O'Connell but soon found himself in front when Baily Green and Rathlin fell at the same fence, doing Boston Bob no favours.
The 13-8 chance was there to be shot at between the final two fences as Boston Bob and Texas Jack both attacked, but he dug deep to emerge the winner by four and a half lengths.
The favourite Boston Bob was being niggled at some way out but held second spot, while Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Lord Windermere ran a fine race on his seasonal bow, running on stoutly to take third late on.
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."
RaceBets quote Don Cossack at 8-1 for the Ryanair at Cheltenham in March.
Rider Davy Russell was thrilled with the effort of the Jim Culloty-trained Lord Windermere. He said: "He was a bit sticky early on, but without winning I couldn't be happier with him. He'll come on from that."
Culloty added: "Once he's OK in the morning, and he hasn't had a hard time of it, it will be all systems go for Christmas. He galloped all the way to the line and didn't have a hard race.
"Nothing is set in stone because you have to take these races one a time, but the plan originally was the John Durkan, the Lexus, the Irish Hennessy and Cheltenham, and at the moment that is still the plan."