Out of sorts Coneygree to miss Hennessy Gold Cup

Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Coneygree will miss Saturday’s Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury after failing to sparkle in a schooling session yesterday.

Out of sorts Coneygree to miss Hennessy Gold Cup

His participation in the prestigious handicap chase had been under a cloud following a small setback but the hope over the last few days was that he might be able to run.

Yesterday’s schooling session was the acid test and if he came through the exercise, for which he was partnered by his regular jockey Nico de Boinville, he was due to take his chance.

Unfortunately, trainer Mark Bradstock and his wife, Sara, were not happy enough with his jumping to let him take his chance.

“I’m afraid we’re not running. He just didn’t school well enough. He overreached which he’s never done before which suggests he’s not comfortable,” said Sara Bradstock.

“He didn’t jump badly but for him, it wasn’t him. We’ve always said if there was any residual pain left we weren’t going to take a risk.

“He definitely wasn’t himself.

“Obviously the prime thing is to get him feeling absolutely on top of the world and not worrying about his foot.

“We’ve got a month to either the King George or the Lexus.

“I think all will be well. It’s a timing thing. We’re just worried about it..

“It’s just his foot, it’s not structural damage.”

Coneygree’s absence means the weights will rise by 9lb leaving Saphir Du Rheu as the new top weight and clear ante-post favourite in his absence.

The pair had been vying for top spot at around 7-2. Now Saphir Du Rheu is clear market leader.

The Paul Nicholls-trained six-year-old is 3-1 with Betfair, who are to refund all Hennessy ante-post bets on Coneygree.

Spokesman Barry Orr said: “The will he/won’t he nature surrounding the Gold Cup winners participation and subsequent confirmation of his withdrawal has prompted us to refund all ante-post bets and let punters bet with some degree of certainty now he has been removed.

“Unsurprisingly Saphir Du Rheu is now clear favourite at 3-1 and he has been a very popular choice since his seasonal reappearance.”

Saphir Du Rheu’s owner Andy Stewart believes his horse has a lot to do attempting to concede weight all round in such a competitive race.

“The weights have gone up 9lb and a six-year-old I quite like is now going to lug around top weight,” he said.

“I think the weights now benefit two horses — the Alan King horse enormously (Smad Place) and former Gold Cup winner Bobs Worth.

Both horses won very well last time.

“Saphir Du Rheu was joint favourite with Coneygree. Obviously he’s going to be favourite now.”

Jockey Richard Johnson is delighted the weights have gone up as he does not have to worry about making the correct burden on Fingal Bay.

Philip Hobbs’ charge was a big disappointment in this race last year but made an encouraging reappearance when second to fellow Hennessy contender Smad Place at Kempton.

“The weights going up is welcome news for me. For the next three or four days I can carry on eating rather than having to lose too much weight,” Johnson said.

“He was 2lb out of the handicap so it’s a bonus for us he is now in the handicap.

“He will now carry 10st 7lb and he’s a horse who likes soft ground.

“He was a short price for the race last year but burst a blood vessel.”

More in this section


Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox