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Classy Cossack can set Cheltenham Gold Cup standard

By Ron McKnight

Don Cossack - envisaged a future Cheltenham Gold Cup winner by his trainer Gordon Elliott - should claim today's Down Royal Festival feature, the Champion Chase.

The eight-year-old is an immense talent and, rated 175, is currently the best chaser in training in Britain and Ireland.

Elliott has always held the horse in the utmost regard and won the £140,000 Grade 1 contest with Roi De Mee two years ago.

Don Cossack - the 1-4 ante post favourite - is impossible to oppose and the 2013 winner can complete the forecast despite Paul Nicholls' runner, Rocky Creek, having finished second in the race last year.

And he has some big-name support.

Noel Chance, who landed the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2000 with Looks Like Trouble before returning home to win the Down Royal feature with his stable star said: "It's definitely Don Cossack for me. He looked a serious horse last season and is only now achieving the recognition he deserves. He looks a future Gold Cup winner at this stage."

Ballymena trainer Ian Ferguson, who added Cheltenham Festival success to his CV when Zemsky claimed the Foxhunters in 2011, said: "Don Cossack must win.

"He's the best chaser anywhere in the UK or Ireland. He's a delight to watch in action and has a very big future ahead of him," he added.

Ann Ferris from Poyntzpass, the first lady rider to win the Irish Grand National in 1984 added: "My racing friends and family say Don Cossack is already past the post. I'll go for Roi Du Mee which finished runner-up to Don Cossack on his seasonal debut. He's a smashing little horse who jumps well and won in 2013. It's a horse race and the favourite will not be a working man's price."

The Grade 2 Powers Irish Whiskey Novice Chase, the supporting feature on Super Saturday, looks a match between Clarcam and Shanahan's Turn.

The latter won this year's Galway Plate in good style but it is hard to overlook a very disappointing effort when finishing last at Gowran last time although connections have had this race as the target for some time.

Clarcam contested both the Cheltenham and Aintree Festivals last year - winning a Grade 1 Chase at Liverpool - and has top class form with horses such as Valtour, Un De Sceaux and Sizing Codelco last term.

Elliott is represented by Shadow Catcher and the trainer chose this race from three options while Armagh trainer Keith Watson has boosted the field with four runners and hopefully the enterprising gamble will pay off with prize money for the first six home.

Lake Champlain has been in excellent form on the level and over hurdles and can claim the opening juvenile hurdle at the expense of Tiliver while Missy Tata is a French import which filled third first time at Auteuil and now trained by Gordon Elliott.

De Name Escapes Me, Strangford Lough and Round Tower make most appeal in the Tayto Hurdle. The latter impressed when winning a bumper at the course and is highly regarded by his in-form trainer while the first pair are owned by JP Mc Manus and certain to improve on previous efforts.

Tony Martin and Ruby Walsh combine with the locally owned, Improver which should be noted in the market.

Fethard Player, The Plan Man and Gentleman Duke are my three against the field in the feature hurdle.

DOWN ROYAL TIPS: 12.35 Lake Champlain 1.05 De Name Escapes Me 1.40 Fethard Player 2.10 Clarcam 2.40 Don Cossack 3.15 The Doorman 3.50 Burrows Lane

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