Coneygree in great shape for Kerry National raid says Bradstock
How Coneygree fares in the Guinness Kerry National at Listowel on September 13 is likely to determine if last season's Punchestown Gold Cup third tackles the £250,000 Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury on December 2.
The race that used to be known as the Hennessy Gold Cup remains the preferred option for connections over Haydock's Betfair Chase, but plans are set to become clearer after the ten-year-old's trip to Ireland for the €175,000 highlight of Listowel's seven-day festival.
Sara Bradstock, whose husband Mark trains the talented, but fragile 2015 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, said: "He's in good shape and we've just entered him in the Kerry National. It keeps him ticking over as it's such a long time before there's another race for him.
"We wanted to take him for a gallop at Worcester the other day, but it was too firm – it had tightened up too much. He'll come on for the run, but he's fit enough as we've got our all-weather and he goes to Paul Cole's all-weather as well.
"I'd be worried if the ground in Ireland went heavy, which it can there, but they are hoping it will be yielding to soft, which would be our good to soft to soft and that would be perfect.
"He's just a bit better since the spring and has got his confidence back - he's feeling great."
Coneygree, whose half-brother Carruthers won the Hennessy in 2011, schooled with stablemates Step Back and Jaisalmer on Wednesday morning and will be partnered by regular rider Nico de Boinville in the Kerry National.
Bradstock added: "What was the Hennessy is a possibility, but running at Listowel will tell us about carrying top weight in a handicap. Carrying the weight isn't a problem as he's always carried it, but the question is if it makes it easier for other horses to lay up with him off 10st. I don't see why it should, but it'd be good to know.
"I'd rather go to Newbury rather than Haydock for the Betfair Chase because we prefer the track for him."
Entries for the Kerry National closed on Wednesday and will be published on Monday.