Johnson the ‘obvious choice’ to ride Coneygree

Coneygree will school under Richard Johnson on Tuesday morning

PICTURE: Steve Davies Johnson the 'obvious choice' for Coneygree
By Andrew Dietz 12:53PM 14 NOV 2016

RICHARD JOHNSON will school Coneygree on Tuesday morning with trainer Mark Bradstock hoping the champion jockey will be free to take over from the injured Nico de Boinville on board his Cheltenham Gold Cup winner in Saturday's Betfair Chase.

With De Boinville requiring surgery on a broken arm sustained in a fall at Cheltenham on Saturday, the trainer has placed Johnson at the top of his replacement wish-list ahead of Aidan Coleman.

"Richard has won on the horse in the past so it makes sense that we use somebody who knows him well," Bradstock said. "If he is available he would be the obvious choice to ride but we will know more about his availability later in the week."

Coneygree was among ten potential runners in Haydock's Betfair Chase to stand their ground on Monday for what would be the 2015 Gold Cup winner's first start in over a year after being ruled out of the remainder of last season with a hock injury.

Among the opposition, last year's winner Cue Card will be aiming to bounce back from last month's defeat in the Charlie Hall Chase with the first two home at Wetherby, Irish Cavalier and Menorah, also in the reckoning for the first leg of the £1 million chase triple crown.

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Johnson added: “It’s up in the air whether Menorah runs but Philip [Hobbs] will have entries at Ascot as well. The Bradstocks have offered me the ride on Coneygree if I can take it and obviously I would love to, but it all depends on Philip really.”

Triple crown ambitions

The Jockey Club Racecourses bonus begins at Haydock before rolling on to the 32Red King George and Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup, and all three races appear to be on Coneygree's agenda.

Bradstock said: "If he happened to win on Saturday and then won the Gold Cup but had missed the King George I would look a bit of a fool wouldn't I?"

Silviniaco Conti, like Cue Card a two-time winner of the Betfair Chase, appears in a potential field also containing Seeyouatmidnight and God's Own, Outlander, Roi Des Francs and Vezelay.

The sponsor's market is headed by Cue Card at 15-8 with Coneygree 9-4 and Silviniaco Conti 5-1.

Rest of Saturday

Trainer Nicky Henderson has announced his intention to start My Tent Or Yours off in the Betfair Price Rush Hurdle on the Haydock undercard and the two-time Grade 1 scorer featured among six possibles.

Last year's winner Irving could return to defend his crown, while Old Guard, Ch'tibello, Melodic Rendezvous and Court Minstrel are also in the mix.

Market leaders Unowhatimeanharry, winner of last season's Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle, and Two Taffs remained engaged for the same card's Grade 3 Betfair Exchange "Fixed Brush" Handicap Hurdle.

The two big races at Ascot on Saturday – the Stella Artois 1965 Chase and the Coral Hurdle – have been reopened until Tuesday after attracting nine and eight runners respectively.

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