Coneygree sparkles in Ffos Las gallop to leave Bradstock purring
Coneygree stepped up his preparation for returning to action at Punchestown this month when delighting connections in a racecourse gallop at Ffos Las on Sunday.
The 2015 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, who has been absent since finishing second to Cue Card in the Betfair Chase last November, galloped a circuit of the track under big-race rider Nico de Boinville and jumped nine fences - drawing a gasp from the crowd with an extravagant leap at the open ditch in the home straight - before gradually pulling away from stablemate and half-brother Flintham.
Trainer Mark Bradstock could not contain his delight after his stable star, who has run just twice since his Gold Cup victory, showed he retains all his enthusiasm.
Bradstock said: "I'm over the moon. He hasn't lost any sparkle, which we didn't think he had any way. He jumped brilliantly, even if he was a bit brave at the ditch.
"Hopefully we'll be going to Ireland. He still needs a bit of work into him, but he was fabulous."
The ten-year-old is due to meet this year's Gold Cup winner Sizing John in the Coral Punchestown Gold Cup on April 26, and Bradstock added: "He's run only 11 times so is very fragile, but he does have an engine - and he hasn't lost it.
"He's had a long time off and now he's had another long time off.
"It's really kind of Dai Walters and Ffos Las to let us do this. People don't get to see the horse very often."
De Boinville, who travelled to Ffos Las just to ride Coneygree, said: "He felt really good. He was fresh and well and it was just a question of keeping a lid on him.
"He was full of it and came out of my hands at the open ditch, just because he was feeling so well.
"He was class and as long as we keep him sound it's all systems go for Punchestown. The feel he gave me there was fantastic."