Sara Bradstock defiant as injury curse strikes Coneygree again

Sara Bradstock is “not giving up” on Coneygree despite ruling the 2015 Cheltenham Gold Cup hero out for the rest of the season due to a stress fracture of his tibia.

The 11-year-old has suffered more than his fair share of injuries, both before and after becoming the first novice in 41 years to claim the blue riband.

He was pulled up on his first start of this season in the Charlie Hall Chase after suffering an over-reach and again in the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury, with that disappointing effort put down to a wind problem.

Having subsequently undergone an operation, connections were hopeful he would rediscover his best form in the second half of the season, but he missed his intended prep race for Cheltenham in last weekend’s Denman Chase at Newbury and has now been scratched from the Gold Cup.

Sara Bradstock, assistant to her husband Mark, said: “Unfortunately we’ve had another dip on the rollercoaster ride that is Coneygree.

“He really had responded fantastically well to the wind operation and he has recently done a couple of incredible pieces of work — they really were quite startling.

“Sadly, he came back lame after the last one, so we sent him off for a bone scan which unfortunately revealed a stress fracture of his tibia.

“He’s out now, probably for the rest of the season as we don’t want to patch him up and go to Punchestown or something like that.

“It is incredibly disappointing as we really felt that extra spark he showed before he won the Gold Cup was back, but that’s Coneygree.

“Unfortunately, the engine is much stronger than the chassis.”

While some will inevitably be calling for Coneygree to be retired, Bradstock feels his recent work suggests the fire still burns bright and warns the doubters have been proved wrong before.

“Hopefully we’ll give it one last go next season. We’re not giving up yet and what is exciting is that he was going so well before this happened,” she added.

“Obviously he owes us nothing and the minute he comes out of his stable and tells us he doesn’t want to do it — and I feel every step he takes — we’ll retire him, but we’re definitely not at that stage yet.

“He still loves it and still has all that old enthusiasm.

“I just thank God that we didn’t listen to all those wise people a few years ago who said we shouldn’t go for the Gold Cup, otherwise we’d be where we are now having only won the RSA Chase.”

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