Tuesday 21 November 2017

Coneygree ready to make up for lost time

Richard Johnson is likely to join the 2015 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner for a preparatory schooling session. Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images
Richard Johnson is likely to join the 2015 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner for a preparatory schooling session. Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images

Tom Peacock

Mark Bradstock is leaving little to chance ahead of Coneygree's belated reappearance in Saturday's Betfair Chase.

The 2015 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner has already visited Haydock for a racecourse gallop and Richard Johnson (right), provided he is freed from duties by his main employer Philip Hobbs, is likely to join him for a preparatory schooling session. Aidan Coleman would be the yard's second preference.

Coneygree must still prove that the hock injury which has kept him away from the track for a year has not prompted any deterioration in his ability, as the £1m (€1.16m) Jockey Club bonus for completing the Betfair, King George and Gold Cup hat-trick is up for grabs.

"It's wonderful to have him back and hopefully he can build and build," said Bradstock. "He had a lot of recuperation standing in his box and then progressed to being ridden out, trotting and galloping. He's enjoyed a good preparation.

"We took him to Haydock for a proper gallop over two miles with a young horse and then old Carruthers jumped in for the last three to four furlongs.

"It's been so dry that it was his first work on grass since he came back in. He's run only 11 times in his life and has only been beaten twice.

"Furthermore, he does tend to go well fresh from a break, as he showed when winning at Uttoxeter in successive seasons."

Nine other runners have been confirmed, with the sponsors pricing two-times winner Cue Card at 15/8 ahead of Coneygree at 9/4 and Silviniaco Conti a 5/1 shot.

In other news, Gilgamboa will be stepped up in trip on his next start after satisfying connections on his return to action at Navan.

The Enda Bolger-trained eight-year-old finished a short-head second to Arctic Skipper in the two-mile Fortria Chase on his first outing since the Grand National in April.

Gilgamboa was an honourable fourth at Aintree, and has been earmarked for a return to Merseyside in the spring.

Bolger said: "We were over the moon with him at Navan. He jumped well and stayed on well, so it's nice to have that out of the way.

"There are lots of options, but the one thing we know is that he'll be stepped up in trip wherever he goes."

Jer's Girl was forced to miss her intended reappearance in the Lismullen Hurdle due to a skin allergy.

Trainer Gavin Cromwell thought the problem had cleared up but it returned on the way to Navan.

The dual Grade One winner is now likely to run in the StanJames.com Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown on Sunday.

The effect of a loose horse - shown when Le Reve brought down three others at Cheltenham last Saturday - was underlined again at Plumpton.

Black Caesar had lost jockey Tom Cannon when diving through the first flight of a novice hurdle and angled in front of the field at the next, wiping out three of the remaining seven runners and putting two obstacles out of service. All riders and horses were unharmed.

The race was won by Citrus, ridden by Tom Scudamore, who said: "I don't know whether it's worth having an outrider there, like they do in point-to-points. It's something to think about."

Citrus was watched by his owner Craig Kieswetter, the former England cricketer, who is now attempting to make it as a professional golfer.

"Carnage, wasn't it?" he said. "As long as the guys are all set, the horses and jockeys, that's not too bad. A win's a win and we're pretty chuffed." © Daily Telegraph, London.

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