By Simon Jackson.
Connections of Coneygree have not ruled out a bid for the Cheltenham Gold Cup after his wide-margin victory in the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase at Kempton Park on Boxing Day.
The Mark Bradstock-trained novice chaser proved far too good for his six rivals to score by 40 lengths despite being eased down after the last fence by jockey Nico de Boinville.
Coneygree, a half-brother to Bradstock’s 2011 Hennessy Gold Cup winner Carruthers, main aim is the Grade 1 RSA Chase on the second day of the Cheltenham Festival; but is also amongst the 35 entries announced on Wednesday for the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Sara Bradstock, assistant trainer and wife of Oxfordshire-based Mark, said: “The intention is very much to go to the RSA. But, if everything goes to plan, we will run Coneygree in the Cotswold Chase (formerly the Argento Chase) at Cheltenham later this month because we want to have him jump around Cheltenham and run against some yardsticks to find out what we have got.
“If he won that race by miles, we would feel stupid if we had not entered him in the Gold Cup, but basically he is being aimed at the RSA at The Festival.
“Carruthers and Coneygree are chalk and cheese except for the fact that their strong quality is stamina. Carruthers is a delicate little flower, while Coneygree is great big and athletic.
“What made it hard for Carruthers at Gold Cup level was that he did not like the hustle and bustle of that sort of racing.
“They are not flashy work horses so we cannot say we have definitely got a Gold Cup horse here in Coneygree. This horse, to be fair, has done everything we have asked of him and more. The novices have bowed down to his gallop and fallen over.
“We have to keep him well and happy and in good form and go from there. How he runs later this month will definitely be the deciding factor and it will be very interesting to see what happens against much more experienced horses.
“He is lightly-raced but, having had time off, he is eight and has the completely mature physique, though he is lacking in experience.”
Read ‘Horse Talk with Simon Jackson’ at London24 for the latest horse racing news. Follow on Twitter @horsetalk.