Vics Canvas on course for Becher Chase

Last season’s Cork Grand National winner Vics Canvas has been given the go-ahead to bolster an already-strong Irish challenge in the Betfred Becher Handicap Chase at Aintree on Saturday.

Vics Canvas on course for Becher Chase

Trainer Dermot McLoughlin had been slightly concerned about the 12-year-old having to shoulder a considerable burden around the Merseyside circuit, but decided to take the plunge on Wednesday morning.

“We’ve given it some thought, and he’s going to run,” said the County Meath handler. We worried about his weight, but we want to get some experience over those fences into him.”

Vics Canvas is, alongside Pineau De Re, the oldest horse in the possible line-up and was last seen finishing eighth in the ’Fixed Brush’ hurdle race at Haydock on November 21.

He is trading at around the 16-1 mark to win the Becher, with compatriots Goonyella, Heathfield and Thunder And Roses also prominent in the ante-post lists.

Connections of Coneygree would not be unduly concerned if the star chaser waited until the new year before he runs again.

The Gold Cup winner spread a plate a fortnight ago and was consequently withdrawn from the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury after he failed to show the necessary sparkle in a schooling session last Tuesday.

Mark Bradstock’s eight-year-old is still in contention for the King George VI Chase at Kempton, for which he must be supplemented, and the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown two days later on December 28.

But with time now at a premium, and with a classy winning return to action at Sandown already in safe-keeping, he appears increasingly likely to stay at home over the Christmas period.

Lady Oaksey, the widow of Coneygree’s breeder Lord Oaksey and a member of the Max Partnership that owns the horse, said: “He’s much better than he was and we’ve now got a shoe on him.

“He’s a very fragile horse and has long legs. The longer the legs, the more problems they have. We’ve obviously missed work already, and I would think, but I could not guarantee, that it (King George) would come too soon.

“There is also the Lexus, but that is only two days after the King George and could also be a bit too soon.”

Should Bradstock keep Coneygree out of the limelight for a little longer, he could be saved for either the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham on January 30 or the Denman Chase at Newbury on February 13 – a race he won last season before heading to Cheltenham.

Lady Oaksey said: “The horse needs to get fit and then he’ll tell us when he’s ready. If we didn’t run (over Christmas), there’s the Denman or the Cotswold Chase. Quite honestly, though, his main aim is the Gold Cup.”

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