DOWN ROYAL (Saturday, October 31)
IT is the first Grade 1 of the new jumps season at Down Royal on Saturday as the €140,000 JNWine.com Champion Chase (2.40) takes centre stage (2.40). All eyes will be on Don Cossack, the highest-rated chaser in either Britain or Ireland, as he aims for his fifth success at Grade 1 level. Don Cossack faces just three rivals and his biggest danger looks to be Rocky Creek who was runner-up to Road To Riches in the race last year. Michael O'Leary's Gigginstown House Stud don't just have Don Cossack in the line-up as they are also represented by 2013 winner Roi Du Mee. The quartet is completed by the Noel Meade-trained Texas Jack. Paul Nicholls has sent out the winner of the Grade 2 Powers Irish Whiskey Chase (2.10) for six of the last seven years and he could improve that remarkable record with Ptit Zig who will be ridden by Sam Twiston-Davis. But in opposition is the Gordon Elliott-trained Clarcam who won two Grade 1s last season. The going at Down Royal on Saturday is yielding, soft in places and the first of seven races in due off at 12.35.