Ricci gives positive update on Gold Cup hope Djakadam

Djakadam will not have to face either Don Cossack or Coneygree this year

PICTURE: Alain Barr (racingpost.com/photos) Ricci gives positive update on Djakadam By Scott Burton 10:30AM 22 FEB 2017

AS BOOKMAKERS and punters alike have rushed to rearrange their views of the Timico Gold Cup in the wake of Thistlecrack's injury, Rich Ricci has issued an upbeat bulletin on the progress of Djakadam, who has finished runner up in the race for the last two years.

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Djakadam is a best-priced 11-2 to go one better than his four and a half length defeat last year to the now-retired Don Cossack.

Not sighted since finishing third behind Outlander in the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas, the son of Saint Des Saints – still only an eight-year-old – has enjoyed a far kinder build-up than ahead of the 2016 edition.

Writing in his blog for Betbright, Ricci said: "As opposed to last year, we’ve had a clean run with Djakadam. We know he gets the trip and he gets around Cheltenham very well.

"Last year he fell in the BetBright Trial at Cheltenham and we had a terrible rush to get him back for Cheltenham – Willie [Mullins] and the team did an extraordinary job to produce him in such form. But this year it has been far smoother and his prep has gone to plan. He goes there a fresh horse with 11 weeks from Leopardstown to Cheltenham and we are quietly purring away in the background daring to dream."

Ricci and Mullins have enjoyed a torrid run on the injury front ahead of Cheltenham, with Faugheen, Annie Power and Min all ruled out in recent weeks, while three-time festival hero Vautour was killed before the season really began in earnest.

Reacting to Thistlecrack's setback, Ricci said: "The race looks a bit different today after that terrible news about Thistlecrack earlier but I still think that Colin Tizzard has a wonderful chance of winning the race with Native River and Cue Card. Colin has done such a brilliant job – not just in preparing his horses but also in dealing with connections of those horses and the media."

Ricci and wife Susannah expect to have a reduced squad for the festival this year of "about 12" and will be hoping for a boost on Wednesday afternoon when Limini attempts two and a half miles for the first time in the Quevega Mares' Hurdle at Punchestown

Referring to Limini's potential Cheltenham target, Ricci said: "she is favourite with some bookmakers for the County Hurdle and has options like the Mares' Hurdle on the Tuesday too. Punchestown – and that new trip – will hopefully tell us plenty and point us in the right direction."

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