Former Bibby Financial Punchestown Gold Cup winner Don Cossack has been retired after failing to recover from an injury suffered when preparing for the 2016 Punchestown Festival.
The 10-year-old Gordon Elliott-trained horse is reported to have heat in his leg, and it means that Kildare jockey Bryan Cooper will never have the chance to link up with Don Cossack again after so much success on board the Gigginstown town star over the course of two years.
“I am very sad to report that Don Cossack has suffered a setback and will now be retired. We found that he had a bit of heat in his leg yesterday and we’ve made the decision to call time," said trainer Gordon Elliott.
“It’s a real sickener for Gigginstown, myself, Bryan Cooper and the whole yard. We knew it was never certain we would get him back to the racecourse and even after that, to get him back to his best, but we were hopeful and he was on track for a run at Gowran Park next month.
The Michael O'Leary owned horse won the 2016 Cheltenham Gold Cup with Cooper on board, and that will prove to be his last time on the track.
His first win came under Nina Carbery at Naas in a flat race back in October 2011, while he enjoyed four wins in a row on the Punchestown track, the last one of which came in the Irish Daily Star Chase back in October 2015.
“He’s a horse of a lifetime and he owes us nothing. I said all season that if he had any sort of setback at all we would not abuse him and retire him straight away," continued Elliott.
“He’s won Grade Ones at Cheltenham, Aintree, Punchestown, Fairyhouse and Down Royal. He was the top-rated horse in Britain and Ireland for the last two seasons running and we’d have loved to see him take on Thistlecrack in the Gold Cup. It would have been a cracking race. That’s racing, as they say, and we have to let that go now and find something else to take on Thistlecrack.
“It was one of the highlights of my career when Don Cossack won the Gold Cup for us last year and he retires a champion. As I said already, he owes us absolutely nothing and a peaceful retirement awaits him out in Gigginstown.’’
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