Coneygree’s France trip aborted
The Kerry National at Listowel has emerged as an intriguing possible target for Coneygree after he was ruled out of a tilt at the French Champion Hurdle.
The seriously talented but fragile 10-year-old performed magnificently to finish a close third in the Punchestown Gold Cup in April, on what was his first appearance since filling the runner-up spot in the Betfair Chase at Haydock in November.
It was only his third start since becoming the first novice in 41 years to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2015.
Connections were initially keen on a possible appearance at Auteuil on Sunday week, but have decided against a cross-Channel raid.
Sara Bradstock, wife of trainer Mark, said: "We've decided not to send him to France. Too many people have told me the ground won't be suitable, so that's that.
"It's driving me mad as he's feeling so good, but what can you do?
"My next plan is to give him a three-week break and then bring him back into training with a view to giving him a run around September time.
"There won't be too many suitable races, but there is the Kerry National at Listowel and that's something I'm thinking about."
The Kerry National takes place on September 13, which is the fourth day of the seven-day Harvest Festival.
While Coneygree would almost certainly carry top-weight, Bradstock feels it will be beneficial to give her pride and joy an early-season outing ahead of a possible tilt at the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury at the start of December.
"I don't think he's on a bad mark and I have it in my mind that carrying top-weight won't bother him," she said.
"Whether he can annihilate horses giving them two tone like he can against horses level weights in conditions races, I don't know, but there's only one way to find out.
"The ground would obviously be important. I would want ground that's been rained on rather than watered ground. There also an open handicap Chepstow at the start of October, so we'll just have to see what the weather is doing nearer the time.
"At the moment I'm thinking of aiming him for the Hennessy Gold Cup, rather than the Betfair Chase, but it will all depend on what the ground is like.
"If we did run him in the Kerry National, that would at least tell us whether we should be aiming at Newbury or Haydock."
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