Gordon Elliott admits Sunday will tell him much more about immediate targets for Don Cossack as he bids to regain the winning thread in what looks a fascinating Racing UK Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle at Punchestown.
The three-time bumper winner began the season with a huge reputation and could not have been more impressive on his hurdling debut at Navan in late November.
However, he was well beaten when falling at the last in the Grade One Navan Novice Hurdle in December and although subsequent results suggest he may have bumped into a superstar in Pont Alexandre, Elliott is convinced his charge was not at his best.
"He's in good shape and we're happy with him at home, so he's going to have to go and prove himself on the track now," said the trainer.
"I think he's going to have to improve on what he did the last day to win. Nothing really showed up after that but we felt he just had an off-day. Hopefully he is in better form with himself on Sunday and we'll see how he gets on.
"He's entered in Cheltenham, but we're not really sure where we're going with him. Sunday will tell us a lot."
Don Cossack faces a far from straightforward task with each of his five opponents lining up on the back of victories.
The Henry de Bromhead-trained Starkie has won his last two at Cork and Tramore and now tests the water at Grade Two level, while Mumbo Jumbo won what looked a warm maiden hurdle at Leopardstown's Christmas meeting and his trainer Margaret Mullins is keen to see how he fares in better company.
Champion trainer Willie Mullins relies on Mozoltov, a leading bumper horse who won by 24 lengths on his hurdling bow at Gowran in December, and the field is completed by Noel Meade's highly regarded Ned Buntline and Pat Flynn's narrow Tramore scorer Waydownsouth.
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