Coneygree targeting Punchestown

Coneygree is likely to begin cantering within a month in anticipation of a return to action in the spring.

Coneygree was given a clean bill of health

The fragile 10-year-old, trained in Oxfordshire by Mark Bradstock, will miss the Cheltenham Festival for a second consecutive season as he continues to rehabilitate from a leg injury.

But the popular chaser is making encouraging progress at his home in Wantage, and has been earmarked for the Punchestown Gold Cup towards the end of April.

Coneygree could even make a comeback before then.

Assistant trainer Sara Bradstock said: "He's still very much on target for Punchestown and we also hope to get a prep run in with him.

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"Aintree is the most obvious one, but whether he'll be quite ready, I don't know.

"He's sound now – the vets have been in and have been very happy with – but it's just a question of making absolutely sure that everything is perfect.

"Nicky Henderson has kindly allowed us to use his water treadmill, so he'll be doing that and swimming before we canter him in about a month.

"The prognosis is 100 per cent positive and he will be back."

The Bradstocks are also investigating a potentially exciting cross-Channel expedition as Coneygree is in the frame to revert to hurdling at Auteuil in June.

Sara Bradstock added: "The other option after Punchestown might be to take him to France for the French Champion Hurdle.

"I know every single step he takes, so we can push the boundaries while being very careful."

Coneygree has only raced twice since he claimed the Gold Cup two years ago, but his second-placed finish behind Cue Card at Haydock in November showed that the fires still burned brightly before his latest setback.

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