Million in mind as Coneygree committed to Triple Crown bid
Coneygree was set on a path towards a £1 million bonus bid on Wednesday after working at Haydock in preparation for a tilt at the Betfair Chase.
Last year's Gold Cup winner worked well enough – "it couldn't have gone better" in the words of connections – to get the nod to contest the first leg of Jockey Club Racecourses' Chase Triple Crown a week on Saturday, when he is set to clash with the likes of Cue Card and Silviniaco Conti.
The winner will be in line for the monster bonus and would claim it if subsequently landing the 32Red King George VI Chase and Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Unable to gallop Coneygree at home on grass because of the dry autumn, Mark and Sara Bradstock boxed him up the M6 to exercise and returned to Oxfordshire favouring the Betfair Chase over the Hennessy Gold Cup, provided there is cut in the ground.
Coneygree became the first novice since Captain Christy in 1974 to win the Gold Cup but had only one start last season before suffering an injury setback.
Sara Bradstock said: "The trip went very well, it was mission accomplished and he got off the box with a spring in his step.
"It was wonderful to find some soft ground. Coneygree went two miles under Nico de Boinville. He went with some youngsters and then Carruthers jumped in at the end to keep him going. It couldn't have gone better."
De Boinville said: “He gave me a great feel and the gallop will have done him the world of good.”
In addition to winning the Gold Cup, Coneygree has scored over the King George course and distance, but he has never run at Haydock.
"The plan has always been to go back to Haydock but it will have to keep raining," continued Bradstock. "I can tell everybody today that the ground there was beautiful.
"We wouldn't consider running on anything other than safe ground, which for him is the soft side of good; the softer the better. He's in the Hennessy in case he doesn't run in the Betfair.
"We've always tilted at windmills with him so we thought we should give the £1 million a go. This leg's the one that would be the hardest because Haydock is a flat, relatively fast three miles.
She added: "If he hadn't had the time off, the Hennessy would have been a more suitable race because of the emphasis on stamina, but we're tempted by the million.
"He's done plenty of work but will certainly improve for the run after being out for a year."
Coneygree is 3-1 second favourite for the Betfair Chase behind 7-4 market leader Cue Card.