The tears flow as brilliant 2015 Gold Cup hero Coneygree is retired
A tearful Sara Bradstock still found the perfect way to describe 2015 Cheltenham Gold winner Coneygree, hailing her stable star as “the king” as his career ended at Ascot on Saturday.
After he was eased to a walk before the second-last fence in the Swinley Chase, Bradstock said: “He’s very happy and I think he’s just told us enough is enough.”
With tears on her cheek, Bradstock was still smiling as Coneygree stood sound as a pound by her side.
“He had a lovely time and I know from riding him at home the engine is still there, but the wear and tear and injuries have just got the better of him now, so we’ll call it a day.”
Ascot rolled out the red carpet for a horse who defied statistics to become the first novice since Captain Christy in 1974 to win the Gold Cup, ushering him to the parade ring for one last hurrah, where he duly received a fond farewell from his many fans.
Bred by Bradstock’s late father Lord Oaksey and trained by her husband Mark, there was a feelgood factor about Coneygree from the start and in particular during his Gold Cup-winning season, which started without his having run over fences and ended with a stirring success from the front at Cheltenham.
“What a fairy tale,” added Bradstock. “We bought the mare Plaid Maid for a couple of grand to breed something for my dad. Carruthers was the first foal and then him and then Flintham, so it's a fairy tale and hopefully gives everyone hope.”
“I almost don’t remember it because it was all too stressful,” said Bradstock when asked to relive the Gold Cup. “It was just incredible because everyone said he couldn’t do it, but this horse is the king – he’s not scared of anything.
"He’s not scared of combine harvesters, and you could honestly ride him down Pall Mall – he’s not scared of anything. The Gold Cup was never going to worry him, so we thought we’d give it a go – and thank God we did. The point was he’d already had a stress fracture and was already fragile by then.”
Saturday was only Coneygree’s eighth run since his Gold Cup win, injuries meaning he was never quite able to show the full extent of his ability again.
Bradstock added: “He’s been in such good form at home that I quite fancied him today, but it’s just his injuries – he’s got pins in his hock and has had stress fractures in every leg – that won’t let him into that final gear.
"He’s a complete miracle and the best thing is he’s still here. We’ll get him home and make sure he’s fine, but we’ll do something with him, as you can see he can still do it.”
Coneygree retires as the winner of half of his 18 races, in which he earned £526,589 in prize-money.
Coneygree in numbers
Gold Cup victory 1
Best Racing Post Rating 178
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