Coneygree's hopes on one 'big day'
Connections of Coneygree are hoping the former Gold Cup winner still has a 'big day' left in him, as he prepares for a wind operation this week.
The 2015 Blue Riband hero has encountered many problems since his most famous afternoon in the Cotswolds.
Trainer Mark Bradstock and wife Sara have shown real patience in their bid to get him back to his best and they thought they'd turned a corner in the spring when the ten-year-old ran a gallant third behind Sizing John and Djakadam in the Punchestown Gold Cup.
There was real optimism therefore when Coneygree reappeared in the bet365 Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby, only for the horse to be pulled up after suffering an overreach.
He was brought back again for last weekend's Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury, where Nico de Boinville again had to abort mid-race, the jockey later reporting Coneygree was suffering from a respiratory problem.
Sara Bradstock, assistant trainer to her husband, confirmed that Coneygree will have a minor wind operation this week.
"He's going to go and have his soft palate cauterised," she stated. "He had a very bad soft palate as a baby and had a few wind operations, but obviously that was a while ago now and he just needs a bit of help with it again.
"He's come out of the [Newbury] race absolutely fine and fresh as a daisy, so I think we can be fairly sure that was the problem."
The operation will only sideline Coneygree for ten days and he could return to the track in January.
The Bradstocks are considering a confidence-booster but have also suggested a first spin around Cheltenham since that Gold Cup glory could be in the offing.
"I think we'll be looking to run in January. It would be nice if he can maybe run in a handicap somewhere to try to give him a confidence-boosting win, although if we feel he's really flying then we'll look at the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham," Sara Bradstock added.
Coneygree is 556.00 to win the Gold Cup for a second time in March and Bradstock believes he has one last hurrah left in his legs.
"We think we've got his legs sorted and then this crops up, but that's him - it's one thing after another," she added. "We think the engine is still as good as ever and we'll get him back for a big day somewhere along the line."
Sizing John is 667.00 to retain the Gold Cup this season, while recent Betfair Chase winner Bristol De Mai is an 556.00 chance.
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