'Nasty overreach' not expected to keep Coneygree on the sidelines for long
The "nasty overreach" that led to Coneygree being pulled up in Saturday's Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby is likely to sideline him for "days and weeks", rather than being a long-term problem, Sara Bradstock, wife of trainer Mark Bradstock, has reported.
Cue Card, who fell in the race, is expected to defend his Betfair Chase crown in just under three weeks' time after showing no ill-effects from his heavy tumble.
It had initially been reported that Coneygree, winner of the 2015 Cheltenham Gold Cup, had lost his confidence after being unsighted by the low sun. However, Bradstock said that the popular chaser sliced the bulb of his heel when his back foot hit his front after pecking on landing.
Speaking on Sunday, she said: "The sun distracted him and when he pecked on landing he suffered a nasty overreach. When he changed to a left-fore lead it put pressure on the injury and it hurt. He lost his action as it was sore.
"We don't have to worry about his jumping. He was just being careful and looking after himself. He's a sensitive horse and wasn't going to get going again. Nico [de Boinville] did well to pull him up so quickly.
"Luckily it is just a cut – nothing structural – and we're talking about days and weeks rather than months [in terms of recovery]."
Coneygree has been ruled out of the Betfair Chase, in which he finished runner-up last year, but remains a possible for the Ladbrokes Trophy, formerly known as the Hennessy, at Newbury next month.
"He was full of himself this morning," Bradstock added. "I took him for a walk around the village and he was pulling me everywhere.
"He'll just be walking for a few days while the injury heals, and he won't be entered in the Betfair Chase. It is perfectly possible he'll run at Newbury, but we'd be looking to bring him for a racecourse school beforehand.
"It was a disappointing day on Saturday as he was more up for it at the start than ever before."
Cue Card took a heavy fall at the 15th fence when holding every chance, but Joe Tizzard, assistant to trainer Colin Tizzard, reports the 11-year-old to have been unaffected by the fall.
He said: "Cue Card is fine. He trotted up this morning as he usually would – as did all of our runners yesterday – and he was okay. I'm just glad he's in one piece and is fine.
"He looked to be travelling well at the time and the fall doesn't change our plans. We'll take it steady with him for the next week or so and look towards the Betfair Chase."
Connections cited the low sun at Wetherby as contributing towards Coneygree's mistake and Cue Card's fall. However, clerk of the course Jonjo Sanderson said complaints about low sun have been extremely rare: "Only once previously in my ten years as clerk of the course have we had one jockey coming back in and reporting they were dazzled by the sun at the course prior to Saturday," he said.
"It happened about three or four years ago in March when we had to bypass a couple of fences in the back straight but on Saturday it was not raised prior to the big race or afterwards by any jockeys except by the riders of Coneygree and Cue Card.
"I spoke to Paddy Brennan and Nico de Boinville after the race and they reported that their horse's attention had been caught by the sun from the south rather than head-on. They felt any glare came from the left side."
Bradstock directed no blame at the course executive, labelling the low sun as "very bad luck and not something which could have been predicted". She did suggest that in future it might be a good idea to bring the race forward from the second-last on the card.
Duke on easy list
Gold Cup hope Our Duke will be on the easy list in the short term following his poor performance in the Grade 1 JNwine.com Champion Chase at Down Royal on Saturday when he trailed in last of seven finishers behind the winner, Outlander.
The Irish Grand National winner started 5-6 favourite for the 3m event, but as his trainer Jessica Harrington admitted on Sunday "he was beaten after jumping the first fence".
Harrington added: "He didn't scope clean after the race and we took his bloods this morning, so we should know more when we get the results.
"I'm scratching my head about it all as he seemed to be in very good form going there. Mind you, something similar happened with him one day at Thurles when he was running over hurdles."