Coneygree: under Nico de Boinville in a Lambourn schooling session
PICTURE: Steve Davies
By Stuart Riley 5:16PM 14 OCT 2016
MARK BRADSTOCK will look to give stable star Coneygree one run before the King George, with ground conditions to decide if the 2015 Gold Cup winner goes to Wetherby, Newbury or Haydock.
The Grade 2 Charlie Hall Chase, Grade 3 Hennessy Gold Cup or the Grade 1 Betfair Chase – complete with its £1 million bonus if the winner can go on to land the King George and Gold Cup – are under consideration for the first novice to win Cheltenham’s most prestigious race in 41 years.
Bradstock is waiting for rain for the nine-year-old, who missed the vast majority of last season with injury.
“He’s in really, really good nick,” he said. “He’ll work tomorrow, he just needs a nice drop of rain [before he can return to the course]. He’s been jumping super, we took him to Lambourn as they can jump them on an all-weather strip and he was awesome, just awesome!”
Explaining his stable star’s nimbleness, headded: “He’s like a giraffe, his legs are so long, yet he is pretty cute. To start with he found it quite tricky to get his legs in the right place but when you’ve got the likes of my son [showjumper Alfie Bradstock], wife [Sara] and daughter [Lily], it does help.”
Coneygree: won the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2015
PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
For the first half of the season Bradstock is working backwards from the King George, run at Kempton on Boxing Day over the same course and distance as Coneygree’s first Grade 1 win in the 2014 Kauto Star Novices’ Chase.
Speaking on ATR, he said: “We’ve got three choices, the Charlie Hall at Wetherby, the Hennessy or the Betfair, that’s it. The problem is rain, simple as that. If they get no rain at Wetherby or Haydock we might have to go to Newbury, otherwise you have to go straight to the King George as there’s nothing else for him.”