Coneygree ruled out of Newbury but Don Poli may return at Aintree - but not for the Becher Chase
A tilt at the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown on December 28 could be on Coneygree's agenda after the brilliant Gold Cup victor was finally ruled out of Saturday's Hennessy Gold Cup.
Following a setback, Mark Bradstock's wife Sara had on Sunday issued an upbeat report about Coneygree's participation in the famous Newbury handicap after he came through a gallop.
However, she was less pleased with the indomitable front-runner following a schooling session yesterday morning.
"I'm afraid we're not running," she said of Coneygree's Hennessy appointment. "He just didn't school well enough. He overreached, which he has never done before which suggests he's not comfortable.
"Obviously the prime thing is to get him feeling absolutely on top of the world and not worrying about his foot. We've got a month to either the King George or the Lexus. I think all will be well.
"It's a timing thing. We're just worried about it. I wouldn't be at all surprised if we haven't flared it and he wasn't lame on it again. It's just his foot, it's not structural damage."
The Bradstocks failed to enter Coneygree for the King George VI Chase prior to his facile Sandown reappearance earlier in the month. It would cost £10,000 for him to be supplemented for Kempton, whereas he could line up in the Lexus for just €1,500.
At the time, Bradstock seemed more keen on exploring the Leopardstown option. "It might not matter as if we're going to take on horses like Vautour, I think we'd want to do it when there is more of an emphasis on stamina," she said of the King George oversight. "If it came up good ground at Kempton, we probably wouldn't go anyway, but if it's heavy and we thought it was right we could still do it."
Should Coneygree travel to the Foxrock venue, there is a chance that his rivals would include his closest Gold Cup pursuers, Djakadam and Road To Riches, so it would be a tantalising prospect.
Speaking yesterday, Willie Mullins outlined plans for - among others - his Cheltenham runner-up Djakadam and Festival hero Don Poli, which may go to Aintree on Saturday week, though not for the Becher Chase.
"Djakadam will probably go for the John Durkan Memorial at Punchestown on Sunday week," he suggested. "Don Poli could go there or to Aintree the day before.
"He is in the Becher Chase but it is a Listed chase over three miles that will be considered. Both horses are in good order and should be in the mix for the big races at Christmas as well.
"I am keen to run Ballycasey and Urano in the Hennessy Gold Cup on Saturday, although I might keep Valseur Lido for the John Durkan - we'll see.
"I'd imagine Gitane Du Berlais will definitely go to Carlisle on Sunday, but I am looking for alternatives for Vroum Vroum Mag; there is the Hilly Way Chase at Cork and the Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon.
"Un De Sceaux will be entered for the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown (December 5). The Hilly Way Chase is also an option for him that weekend so I will just see how he is in the meantime. I am delighted with him at the moment."