CHELTENHAM Gold Cup hero Don Cossack could have run his final race, fears owner Michael O’Leary.
The Ryanair boss believes the tendon injury that prevented Gordon Elliott’s stable star from competing at this week’s Punchestown Festival could be career-ending because it will require a season on the sidelines.
“I fear he has had it. It would be very difficult for him to come back ever,” said a despondent O’Leary.
“Gordon and the team want to bring him back, but what will make it extraordinarily difficult is that he is nine. With a tendon you generally have to take a year off and if you do at nine, you come back to a Gold Cup at 10 or 11.
“Horses don’t come back (from this sort of injury). He would be running in a Gold Cup at that age with interrupted preparation with his leg. I think it is unlikely, but Gordon will leave no stone unturned.
“That is why I say you should enjoy a Gold Cup when you win one, because very rarely do they ever come back.”
Don Cossack, ridden by Bryan Cooper, won Cheltenham’s blue riband race after the ever popular Cue Card came to grief at the third last.
This victory, coupled with Rule The World’s win in the Crabbies’s Grand National, saw O’Leary crowned champion owner in Britain for the first time.