Down Royal in mind for Coneygree before Newbury bid
Coneygree is likely to warm up for the Ladbrokes Trophy – formerly the Hennessy – at Newbury in December with a trip to Down Royal in early November for the JNwine.com Champion Chase.
The ten-year-old's trainer Mark Bradstock has shelved any thoughts of running his stable star at Auteuil on Sunday week and is working on a timetable towards the first running of Newbury's flagship jumps race under Ladbrokes' sponsorship.
He said on Wednesday: "Coneygree is in a field enjoying himself, so any trip to France is out of the question.
"He really pleased us on his last outing at Punchestown in April, where he was beaten just a length and half by this year's Gold Cup winner Sizing John – we were over the moon with the performance.
"If going to Newbury in early December is the plan it would be nice to get a run into him beforehand, and we have three options – the Kerry National in mid-September, which is a bit early, and then it’s either the Charlie Hall or a trip to Northern Ireland for the JNwine.
"The ground is going to dictate where he goes. I suspect if we get a dry autumn that would rule out Wetherby, in which case the JNwine would fit in nicely.
Looking further ahead Bradstock is eyeing a repeat tilt at the Gold Cup with Coneygree, who was successful in 2015 but has not had a chance to contest the Cheltenham highlight since owing to injury.
"The horse is ten, but it’s easy to forget he's had only 13 races in his life and, given what he showed us at Punchestown, there's still more to come," said Bradstock.
Listowel officials would be understandably thrilled were Coneygree to contest the Kerry National, and course spokesman Pat Healy said on Wednesday: "We'd be delighted. We've been in touch with Mark Bradstock's yard and we'll do everything we can to get him to our Harvest Festival meeting. It would be a great boost for the race and for Listowel if he comes."
Coneygree would not be the first Gold Cup winner to contest the race as L'Escargot – who won two Gold Cups – was beaten in a photo-finish in 1975.