Sara Bradstock, assistant trainer to her husband Mark, talked enthusiastically about Coneygree’s schooling with David Bass up over three fences on the back straight today at Newbury’s gallops’ morning ahead of the Ladbrokes Winter Carnival.
This followed Congeygree, who won the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2015, being pulled up on his first start of the season at Wetherby on November 4 with an over-reach.
The lightly-raced 10-year-old chaser has top-weight of 11st 12lb in the £250,000 Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury a week on Saturday 2nd December and is an intended runner.
She explained: “We needed to come to the course today to check that Coneygree wanted to go and do it and he did.
“He took off out of David Bass’ hands at the second and measured the third brilliantly. We are delighted.
“The over-reach has healed and all seems well with it after the schooling session, which is very good.
“He is pretty much going to run in the Ladbrokes Trophy – anything can happen with him! That is the plan, we have always said that the Ladbrokes Trophy would suit him.
“His fitness is the worry. We would have been much happier if he had a race. There is not much we can do about that now.
“Nico (de Boinville) will be back on him for the race – David was very happy to join the list of people who are eligible to ride Coneygree and he did a very nice job.
“It would be wonderful to win the Ladbrokes Trophy again (the first victory came with Coneygree’s half-brother Carruthers in 2011).
“If the ground went heavy, Coneygree would not run and we can run Flintham (who also schooled today under daughter Lily Bradstock) off 10st. He is in good form. I don’t think we would run them both.”
Asked if she felt that Coneygree had another big race in him, she replied: “I truly believe he has.
“He feels really, really good. Last year was about getting him back from injuries. And now he just feels more competent. We healed the injuries but he is very clever and he had to know it was all OK.
“That is why we were so delighted with how he ran at Punchestown (a close third in the G1 Punchestown Gold Cup on April 26) and since then he has improved again for the confidence. Now, touching every piece of wood, he feels wonderful.
“He is running off 165 in the Ladbrokes Trophy. That is not a Gold Cup rating and you have to remember that every race he has run in he has carried 11st 10lb. He only has to carry 2lb more and he is a big horse. Every day I ride him out and I cannot pretend that I weigh 8st!
“What we won’t know until we do it is whether giving horses two stone makes it easier to go his gallop. He has never run in a handicap before, so it is a bit of worry that something with 10st will be able to go his gallop.
“He will very much go to the front as usual – he doesn’t have a turn of foot. If you rode him in the middle, he would finish in the middle.
“Coneygree had a week off after Wetherby because he had a bad over-reach, but he worked last week, has done so today and will do a couple of bits before the race.
“He is very fragile – if everything is right, we will run him. Every step he takes is a worry to me. I totally believe in him – he feels incredible. He is bouncy – he is full of himself. He is lovely.
“There is no reason why he should lose his ability. He has never had any speed to lose -a marathon runner goes on a lot longer than a sprinter and that is what he is – he just keeps going. Hopefully, he is as good as ever, if not better.
“I have not seen any deterioration in the horse. I thought the run at Punchestown was very good – I think he only made the mistake at the second last because the ground was a little bit fast for him.
“But Mr Smith (Phil – the BHA Head of Handicapping) put him down from 172 after that so I am happy – I like him!
Ladbrokes Latest Betting:
Ladbrokes Winter Carnival – Ladbrokes Trophy
Total Recall – 5/1
American – 7/1
Singlefarmpayment – 8/1
Whisper – 8/1
Acapella Bourgeois – 14/1
A Genie in Abottle – 16/1
Coneygree – 16/1
Mala Beach – 16/1
Vyta Du Roc – 16/1
Royal Vacation – 16/1
O O Seven – 16/1
Click here for all our Ladbrokes Trophy odds
All Odds and Markets correct as of the date of publication