Sunday 20 January 2019

Poli not going for Chelt' gold

Injury rules Don out of Prestbury festival

Bryan Cooper on Don Poli after winning the Lexus Steeplechase at Leopardstown in December 2015. Pic: Sportsfile
Bryan Cooper on Don Poli after winning the Lexus Steeplechase at Leopardstown in December 2015. Pic: Sportsfile

Don Poli has been ruled out of next week's Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup after suffering a setback.

Formerly trained by Willie Mullins, the eight-year-old won the RSA Chase two years ago before finishing third behind Don Cossack in the Gold Cup 12 months ago.

He joined Gordon Elliott prior to the start of this season and while he disappointed on his debut for his new trainer at Down Royal, he had since bounced back with placed efforts in the Lexus Chase and the Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown.


Don Poli was a general 16-1 shot for the blue riband, but will not be in action at Prestbury Park.

Elliott said in his blog: "Unfortunately Don Poli has picked up an injury and will not make it to this year's Festival.

"We are all very disappointed as he was in great form and we were really looking forward to him running."

Despite Don Poli's withdrawal, owners Gigginstown House Stud still have a leading contender for the Gold Cup in the Elliott-trained Outlander.

His stable companion Empire Of Dirt, marginally ahead of Don Poli when runner-up in the Irish Gold Cup, had been targeted at the Ryanair Chase, but Elliott hinted plans could now change.

He said: ''We may reshuffle our deck but I will discussing that with Eddie and Michael (O'Leary) in the coming days."

Gigginstown racing manager Eddie O'Leary added: "We'll run the horses in the race we feel they have the best chance of winning.

"We're just getting over this news and we don't need to be making any definite plans for the other horses just yet."

Yorkhill is the star among 19 names in the JLT Novices' Chase at Cheltenham on Thursday.

Willie Mullins has also left in Bellshill, Haymount and Royal Caviar.

Both Noel Meade and Paul Nicholls could be double-handed with Disko and Road To Respect in the mix for the first-named handler while Politologue and Ibis Du Rheu could run for Nicholls.

Barry Connell has supplemented the Alan Fleming-trained Balbir Du Mathan with Kim Bailey's Charbel also standing his ground.

Flying Angel, Kilcrea Vale, Starchitect and Top Notch are others in contention with six days to go.

Robert Havlin insisted he "fiercely maintains his innocence" after lodging a further appeal against a six-month riding ban imposed by France Galop after testing positive for a prohibited substance.

Ruling body France Galop said last month the Newmarket-based jockey had returned a positive sample when riding at Saint-Cloud on October 30 and that it would "request the reciprocation" of the imposed sanction by the British Horseracing Authority.

Havlin strongly refuted the findings, saying at the time the ban was announced he was "deeply upset and shocked" by the suspension and that he fully expected to clear his name following what he described as an "outrageous miscarriage of justice and defamation of my character".

Paul Struthers, chief executive of the Professional Jockeys Association, said Havlin will continue to contest the ban having had his initial appeal dismissed this week.

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