The Notebook: Don Cossack the mover but the veterans steal the show

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While the weather may have done its best, we were able to enjoy almost a full complement of racing this week, with just a trio of cards biting the dust.

And Monday to Friday has been a real mixed bag, with talking points coming from the up-and-coming jumpers, to the grand old veterans on the fibresand.

Here’s our five memorable moments from the week just gone…

Another useful flat recruit for Ferguson

John Ferguson seems to have a knack of taking a half-decent flat horse (usually owned by Godolphin), and then priming them for a prosperous jumping career.

That’s what he’s looking like doing for Zip Top, runner up to Camelot in the Racing Post Trophy in 2011.

Fairly well beaten on hurdle debut by smart prospect Jollyallan, he showed untold improvement to land a maiden at Fakenham on Tuesday.

Alongside another flat racer Shwaiman, he pulled well clear of the chasing pack, showing a better leap at the last to run out a 3¾l winner, with the third placed horse 17l further back.

The General ranks up at Southwell…

It seemed impossible turning in for home that General Tufto would be adding to his 10 wins over Southwell’s mile course, but this old veteran was about to prove everyone wrong on Wednesday.

On what was his 150th race, the 11-year-old stayed on stoutly to fight out a third straight battle with old rival Eium Mac.

Joey Haynes’ mount prevailed by a neck and added another ‘1’ to his extremely long race record.

But he’s not the king of the all-weather

It might not have been his spiritual home of Southwell, but an artificial surface is an artificial surface as far as La Estrella is concerned.

Taken to Lingfield with one thing on trainer Don Cantillon’s mind, equal Stand Guard’s record of 26 all-weather wins, the 12-year-old was sent off the 5/6 favourite.

He was made to work, but he showed there’s still plenty of fight left in the old boy yet, as he ground out a 1¾l victory over Investissement.

Win number 27 will surely be on the way.

Cossack is the Don of Thurles

What promised to be a quality-over-quantity renewal of the Ladbrokes Kinloch Brae delivered on the action front, but left many thinking what if.

Going to the last Don Cossack and Champagne Fever were neck and neck, the former possibly just looking stronger.

But a steep landing saw Champagne Fever hit the deck, allowing Gordon Elliot’s charge to saunter home unchallenged.

In taking his record this season to four from four, the Gigginstown-owned gelding was cut into 5/1 second favourite for the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham.

Monkerty back with a vengeance

It was 12 months since the popular Monkerty Tunkerty was pulled up in the Somerset National, with injuries threatening the life of Jess Westwood’s pride and joy.

But a year on, and the grand old campaigner was back at the scene of the crime as it were.

Sent off a 7/1 shot, the son of Silver Patriach jumped with real vigour, showing that his previous experience in the race had left no mental scars.

With just a handful of horses in her care, the £12,512 win must be up there as one of the best for the Minehead trainer, and she will be hoping her stable star is ready to go again this season.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing

Think Don Cossack can claim glory at Cheltenham? Back Gordon Elliot’s charge for the Ryanair Chase using your free £25 bet and pick up £125 if he charges up that hill in front!

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Ben Stones

Ladbrokes News’ equine expert, Ben likes nothing more than studying the form to pick out a winner or two for our readers. A Journalism and Media Studies graduate from the University of Winchester, Ben has previously written for a number of football and racing blogs and websites, as well as contributing to the sports pages of his home-town newspaper.