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Don Poli is 16/1 for the Cheltenham Foxhunters

11-year-old Don Poli has been something of a cult horse for many years; he should have been named ‘Don Slowly But surely’.

He is well documented to being a very peculiar sort – repeatedly he would appear struggling badly early on in his races nonetheless as the race developed he would be back on the bit with the jockey seemingly having a double handful at the finish.

He was bought by Gigginstown house stud for a modest price-tag of €42,000 as a 2-year-old; amassing over £204,627 in prizemoney throughout his scintillating career, he has become a firm favourite with the punters nevertheless he has been regressing desperately this past few season and enough was enough for Gigginstown – his time was up under their ownership. There was plenty of interest in him at the Goff’s Aintree sale even so nobody could have envisaged he would sell for £170,00.00; Plenty of eyebrows were raised in sheer disbelief at the escalated sale price.

Darren Yates was announced the winning bidder. It has been kept no top-secret that Don Poli’s new owner has been rather bullish that ‘The Don’ still has what it takes to win this years’ Foxhunter, a race which has been won by 11-year-olds in three of the last four running’s.

In the past Don Poli has relished considerable triumphs, most notably at the Cheltenham Festival, winning the Grade 1 RSA Chase in 2015, the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle in 2014 and even managing to place third in the Gold Cup Chase in 2016, which is serious form with all things considered.

On high recommendations of leading handler Dan Skelton, he has been transferred to small-time handler Nick Pearce, more of a one-to-one training regime could be what this ex high-class horse desires at this latter stage of his career.

Fresh from victory at Alnwick point to point last Saturday; everything will now be fixated on keeping him on an even keel for the imminent Cheltenham festival in March; even a glimmer of his former splendour would surely be enough for him to be considered a big player in the foxhunters. Experienced jockey Tristan Durrell was in the saddle last time out, I’d imagine that partnership to stay in-tact by the way Durrell was impeccably riding the old veteran with such self-assurance throughout the race. after which he was cut to 16-1 (from 25) for the Foxhunter in March by Paddy Power.

The Don pictured above in his new black silks

Yates asserted; “It’s all systems go for the Foxhunter and I’m thrilled to see Don Poli back enjoying himself. ‘He added; “At the end of the day, he’s done it before and although the Foxhunter won’t be easy, he could well be twenty pounds well in with some of his opponents”.