Coneygree team now eyeing Betfair Chase return
Coneygree appears increasingly likely to sidestep the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby and instead have a racecourse gallop at Haydock with a view to making his comeback in next month's Betfair Chase.
Mark Bradstock's nine-year-old brought the house down after becoming the first novice in 41 years to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2015, but has not been seen in competitive action since winning his one and only start of last season at Sandown last November.
The trainer's wife and assistant, Sara Bradstock, is thrilled with how her pride and joy has recovered from injury as he closes in on a return and is keen to give him the best possible chance of winning the Jockey Club Chase Triple Crown – with a £1million bonus on offer for any horse who can land the Betfair Chase, the King George VI Chase and the Gold Cup.
"We want to have a tilt at the million and if we're going to have a racecourse gallop beforehand, it will probably be at Haydock"
Bradstock said: "He's very good and we're just waiting for the rain.
"We were hoping to go and work him at Haydock after the Flat meeting today, but the ground was just too firm.
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"We are desperate to get on the grass – he needs to train on the grass having had all that time off – but everything he's doing on the all-weather gallop is very exciting.
"He'll probably have to go straight to the Betfair Chase as the Charlie Hall is probably too close. The only thing that would send us there (Wetherby) would be if it was good to soft ground.
"We want to have a tilt at the million and if we're going to have a racecourse gallop beforehand, it will probably be at Haydock. It's a long way to go for a gallop, but they are providing the facilities for us.
"We'd like to get him over a couple of fences and to do a good racecourse gallop."
Coneygree is a general 12-1 shot to regain his Gold Cup crown at Prestbury Park next March, with several bookmakers making last season's star staying hurdler Thistlecrack the ante-post favourite, despite the fact he has yet to make his chasing debut.
Bradstock views Cue Card as a "bigger threat". Colin Tizzard's charge won the Betfair Chase and the King George last season before coming to grief when still in contention for Gold Cup glory.
"To be fair, I'd call Cue Card a bigger threat than Thistlecrack, who has not jumped a fence yet and he's got to prove it, whereas Cue Card improved all last year," Bradstock added.
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