Injured Don Cossack retired
Last year's Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Don Cossack has been retired following the recurrence of a tendon injury.
The nine-year-old has not been seen in competitive action since his thrilling victory at the Festival last March when he powered up the hill to land the blue riband race by four-and-a-half lengths from Djakadam.
That took Don Cossack's record to 16 wins from 27 starts, including six Grade 1s.
The German import then sustained a tendon injury the following month which put an end to his season but connections were hopeful he would be fit to defend his title later this year.
An outing in February had been suggested as a warm-up for the Gold Cup but all those plans have now been scarped after it was determined Don Cossack has suffered a recurrence of his original injury.
It is a real blow to trainer Gordon Elliott and his owners, Gigginstown House Stud, but Elliott says he takes some solace from the fact he bows out as a champion.
Elliott said: "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. I said all season that if he had any sort of setback at all we would not abuse him and retire him straight away.
Eddie O'Leary, racing manager for owners Gigginstown House Stud, added: "It is a recurrence of the very same injury, the exact same injury in the exact same place. I wouldn't mind, but I saw him last week and his legs were like steel and we thought we had him back.
"We said all of the way along that we were very pessimistic and this is exactly why. He was a wonderful, wonderful horse for us. You could pin fire this horse and get him back but he owes us nothing and we will give him the retirement that he richly deserves at Gigginstown House Stud."
Don Cossack is the latest Gold Cup contender to be pulled from the picture for this year's renewal after 2015 winner Coneygree was scratched earlier this week.
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