Mark Bradstock has revealed that his stable star and 2015 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner is recovering well from his setback and is on track for a spring return.
The ten-year-old gelding became the first novice since Captain Christy in 1974 to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup when running out a length-and-a-half winner of the 2015 edition.
A son of Karinga Bay, he has been making good progress since suffering a niggly injury after the Betfair Chase and could be targeted at either the Punchestown Gold Cup or the Betfred Bowl at Aintree’s Grand National meeting.
Speaking to At The Races, Bradstock said: “He’s in really good form. He’s been swimming. He’s going on a water treadmill and Sara rides him out as well. What we are trying to do is to make sure all his muscles don’t completely fall to flab.
“What happened was not a total disaster and we’re still keen to see if we can get him back for either Aintree or Punchestown.”
Coneygree has only been seen twice since his greatest achievement just under two years ago. A hock injury after his win in an intermediate chase at Sandown in November 2015 meant he wouldn’t return to action for over a year later.
Although running with credit bearing in mind the year layoff, he proved no match for the Colin Tizzard-trained Cue Card in the Betfair Chase last November.
What happened was not a total disaster
Bradstock added: “On a scale of one to 10, the setback was probably a four. It wasn’t that drastic, but with these races like the Gold Cup you do need an almost clean run to them and he would have needed a prep run, which would have been either the Cotswold or the Denman, before the Gold Cup and that probably wasn’t going to happen.
“From Haydock to the Gold Cup (without a run in between) would have been unfair on the horse, to ask him to run in a race like that with no prep or anything.
“The thing with him is although he’s 10, the fact is he’s had very little racing and mentally he is still a child.”