Coneygree camp wait on Johnson after De Boinville is ruled out of Kempton ride
Nico de Boinville will miss the King George ride on his Gold Cup-winning partner Coneygree after specialists said his broken arm needs more time to heal.
Although having set no timescale for his return to the saddle after breaking his arm in three places in mid-November, De Boinville had hoped there was a chance he would be back for the 32Red-sponsored showpiece at Kempton, where Coneygree is set to line up against his Haydock conqueror Cue Card.
Assistant trainer Sara Bradstock said she would leave it to agent Dave Roberts to get Coneygree "the best rider we can have" but admitted that Richard Johnson – the only jockey other than De Boinville to have partnered the extravagant front-runner over fences – was the preferred choice for herself and husband Mark.
Following a return to the Gloucestershire Royal Hospital on Thursday, De Boinville said: "The consultant is very happy with it but he just felt it needs a bit more time – it has been just over four weeks – so we'll probably review it towards the new year. I won’t be sitting on a horse for a while yet.
"It feels really good and everyone involved is really happy with it. Everyone at Oaksey House is happy but bones don’t knit overnight. You’ve got to be sensible and listen to the professionals."
De Boinville has been concentrating on physiotherapy at the Injured Jockeys Fund rehabilation centre in Lambourn and is yet to resume riding out.
The Bradstocks now have the twin worries of securing a jockey for Coneygree and hoping the ground doesn't get too fast at Kempton for the 2015 Gold Cup winner.
"It's impossible for anyone to know at this stage who will be available and so to try to tie someone down now is going to mean that we won’t get the best," said Sara Bradstock.
"I′ll leave it in the capable hands of Dave Roberts. He knows what our preferences are and he'll get us the best we can have. The news I heard is that he didn’t think that Richard Johnson was going to be claimed but you never know, he may be riding somewhere else."
The Bradstocks turned to Johnson for the Betfair Chase following De Boinville's injury but were only guaranteed his services when Philip Hobbs withdrew Menorah owing to soft ground.
Until that point Aidan Coleman had been on standby for the ride.
"At least we are in the position that everyone wants to ride him!" said Bradstock. "It's a nightmare because he's a very easy ride but, at the same time, he's a freak in the way he does it. Nico knows him so well. Obviously Richard also knows him so we just have to hope and pray we can have him."
The Coneygree team remain committed to Kempton unless the ground comes up good, in which case he could be switched to the Betbright Trials Chase at Cheltenham in late January, by which time Bradstock expects De Boinville to be available.
Kempton clerk of the course Barney Clifford said on Thursday that the going will rest on how much rainfall the track receives in the 48 hours pbefore racing.
Clifford said: "I had a weather forecast on Wednesday afternoon, which indicates temperatures are staying mild. There is some sporadic rainfall around on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, so the timing of that would be quite helpful. But in total you are only looking at between 10-15mm of rain between now and the meeting."
While the overall total may not amount to much, the timing of any rain is likely to be the deciding factor.
Clifford said: "We started on good ground for our last fixture and with rain on the day it soon deteriorated because we've had to put on so much water through this dry autumn. I walked it today and I’d call it good, good to soft in places."