Coneygree French sortie in doubt due to ground concerns
Plans to run Coneygree in the French Champion Hurdle are up in the air after connections expressed their concerns over the ground conditions at Autueil.
Coneygree, who was given the all-clear by the vet after swelling was found in a hind-leg following his third place in the Punchestown Gold Cup, was pencilled in for the Grande Course de Haies d'Auteuil on June 11.
However, the ground conditions in Paris are a big concern and trainer Mark Bradstock's wife Sara said: "The people we have talked to have been negative about it.
“They have been critical of the watering and the ground. If they had natural rain that could change things, otherwise we may have to wait until the autumn.
"It is frustrating as he is absolutely pinging but there is nothing else for him and we are not going to take any chances with him."
Coneygree won the Gold Cup as a novice in 2015 and was having only his third outing since when chasing home the 2017 winner Sizing John and Djakadam at Punchestown last week. He is a best-priced 33-1 to recapture the Gold Cup next March.
Thistlecrack, Gold Cup market leader until ruled out with injury, is unlikely to run before Christmas as he recovers from a torn tendon in his off-foreleg.
Trainer Colin Tizzard has the nine-year-old on the horsewalker at his Venn Farm stables in Dorset before he is transferred back to owners John and Heather Snook's yard for his summer holiday.
“He has had two scans on the leg and it is ice cold now and he is fine,” said Tizzard. “I don’t know where we are going to go with him.
“He will probably come back in September or October and be ready to run after Christmas.”
That makes Thistlecrack’s defence of the King George at Kempton on Boxing Day the earliest target with the Timico Gold Cup at Cheltenham next March the major aim.
Thistlecrack, the first novice to win the Grade 1 Christmas feature, was still 2-1 favourite for the Gold Cup after he was touched off by Many Clouds in the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham in January.
A month later Tizzard had to rule him out of the Gold Cup after finding swelling and some heat in his off-fore which a scan revealed was due to a small tear of the tendon.