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Coleman lands plum Haydock ride on Coneygree

Aidan Coleman: will ride Coneygree unless Richard Johnson becomes available
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Aidan Coleman has picked up the coveted ride on Coneygree in the Betfair Chase on Saturday, although Richard Johnson remains poised to take over in the saddle if his mount Menorah is withdrawn.

The search for a new rider for last year's Gold Cup winner began at the start of the week after regular partner Nico de Boinville fractured his arm at Cheltenham over the weekend.

Johnson had been in pole position to take the mount after schooling Coneygree earlier in the week but instead is due to ride Menorah at Haydock for Philip Hobbs.

Trainer Mark Bradstock said on Thursday: "Aidan Coleman will ride Coneygree on Saturday at Haydock with the proviso that if the ground becomes too soft and Menorah is withdrawn Richard Johnson will take over in the saddle."

Coneygree has been off the course since damaging a hock in the build up to the King George VI Chase last year, but pleased Johnson when schooling over 12 fences in Lambourn on Tuesday.

The ground at Haydock was changed to soft all over from soft, good to soft in places after 5mm of rain on Wednesday. Up to 15mm is forecast to fall at the track before racing takes place on Saturday.

The Betfair Chase, for which declarations are out on Thursday morning, is the first leg of the £1 million Jockey Club Racecourses triple crown. Coneygree is rated a 33-1 shot to score at Haydock on Saturday before following up in the 32Red King George and Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup.

If the ground becomes too soft and Menorah is withdrawn Richard Johnson will take over in the saddle
E.W. Terms