Gold Cup dark horse Coney Island to return in big Leopardstown chase
Coney Island will return to action in the Leopardstown Christmas Chase – formerly the Lexus – on December 28 with trainer Eddie Harty hoping he could emerge as a dark horse for the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup.
The JP McManus-owned six-year-old has not been seen since chasing home Our Duke in the Grade 1 novice chase at Leopardstown last Christmas, as a badly bruised foot kept him out of the Cheltenham Festival, and he is priced between 16-1 and 33-1 for the Gold Cup.
Those fancy prices may appeal to some given he was a Grade 1-winning novice chaser, and the form of that Drinmore victory has worked out very well with Alpha Des Obeaux (now rated 157) and Road To Respect (now rated 163) back in third and fourth.
Harty said on Monday: "I know you've not seen Coney Island yet but I'm pleased to report everything is great with him and, touch wood, you'll see him again in what used to be the Lexus. That's the race we're aiming at.
"There's nothing really suitable before then and we've decided to give the John Durkan a miss in favour of waiting for Leopardstown. He missed the second half of last season with a bruised foot but is absolutely fine now and it was nothing too serious.
"He goes well fresh so I'm not worried about him having his first run back in a Grade 1."
On the prospect of Coney Island emerging as a Gold Cup contender, Harty said: "I certainly hope he can. You can't knock his form as a novice and I'm hoping we'll get a clearer run this season than we did last term. I've certainly not lost any faith in him."
Coney Island is 12-1 with Paddy Power and Betfair Sportsbook for the Leopardstown Christmas Chase. Yorkhill heads the betting at 5-2.
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