Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Don Cossack loving new career

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  • Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Don Cossack is enjoying the start of his new career after retiring from racing.

    Irish Olympic eventer Louise Lyons has taken on the retraining of the National Hunt hero.

    Formerly trained by Gordon Elliott, the 11-year-old son of Sholokhov has been to several shows with Louise and has qualified for Tattersalls July Show.

    Louise, who competed at the 2008 Olympics with Watership Down, said “Don” has been a “complete gentleman”.

    “He has been with me for about a month and we have been to three shows — he is loving it and is really enjoying the attention,” Louise told H&H.

    “At the shows we have had people coming up to stroke him and have their picture taken with him.”

    The pair have contested some racehorse to riding horse and working hunter classes and Louise added the horse is “very balanced and light on his feet”.

    “He has been really good, the only thing he has struggled with a bit is standing still in the line up,” she said.

    “The judges that have ridden him loved riding him — he is a real showman and loves showing off, you can see why he won his gold cups!

    “He is great over a fence and doesn’t rush or get faster, it is just a case of adapting [to the new style of jumping].”

    Louise added she has kept the jumps small and is taking everything steadily with the horse to “see how he gets on”, with the possible aim of taking him to Dublin Horse Show in August.

    “He will only improve, he just needs to strengthen up again — he will be a different horse again in a month or so’s time,” she added.

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    Don Cossack won 16 of his 27 starts under Rules during his glittering racing career.

    With the exception of the King George VI at Kempton, where he fell two out, the horse won every race he ran in during his final season (2015/16).

    Owned by Gigginstown House Stud, Don Cossack’s major victories included the 2015 Punchestown Gold Cup and Aintree’s Melling Chase both in 2015, the 2014 Grade One Punchestown Chase. He was also the top-rated National Hunt horse in both 2015 and 2016.

    Don Cossack retires

    Don Cossack wins the 2016 Cheltenham Gold Cup

    Don Cossack’s final victory on the track came in the 2016 Cheltenham Gold Cup, where he was steered to a four-and-a-half length victory over Djakadam by Bryan Cooper.

    The gelding was being aimed at Punchestown, when he sustained a tendon injury. He returned to training in the 2016/17 season, but was retired from racing after the injury resurfaced.

    In this week’s Horse & Hound magazine, out on Thursday 28 June 2018, don’t miss our full report from the Hickstead Derby meeting, including all the showjumping and showing action, plus don’t miss our six-page report from Royal Ascot.

    We also have a feature on the much discussed whip rules across the disciplines and in this week’s ‘Vet clinic’ we find out how to spot the signs of sand colic.

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