Aidan Coleman handed Betfair Chase ride on Coneygree
Coneygree schooled well under Richard Johnson earlier this week
AIDAN COLEMAN has picked up the coveted ride on Coneygree in the Betfair Chase on Saturday, although Richard Johnson remains poised to take over in the saddle if his mount Menorah is withdrawn.
The search for a new rider on the 2015 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner began at the start of the week following news regular partner Nico de Boinville had fractured his arm at Cheltenham over the weekend.
Johnson had been in pole position to take the mount after schooling Coneygree earlier in the week, but he will instead ride Menorah at Haydock for boss Philip Hobbs.
Trainer Mark Bradstock said on Thursday: "Aidan Coleman will ride Coneygree on Saturday at Haydock with the proviso that if the ground becomes too soft and Menorah is withdrawn Richard Johnson will take over in the saddle."
Coneygree has been off since damaging a hock in the build up to the King George VI Chase last year, but pleased Johnson when schooling over 12 fences in Lambourn on Tuesday.
The ground at Haydock was changed to soft all over from soft, good to soft in places after 5mm of rain on Wednesday. Up to 15mm is forecast to fall at the track before racing takes place on Saturday.
The Betfair Chase, for which declarations are out on Thursday morning, is the first leg of the £1 million JCR triple crown and Coneygree is a 33-1 shot to score at Haydock on Saturday before following up in the 32Red King George and Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup.
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