SCINTILATING Gold Cup winner Coneygree is “absolutely on track” to return to action over Christmas having overcome a setback that forced him to miss last month’s Hennessy at Newbury.
However, buoyed by his recovery so far, connections are optimistic that he will return to action in either the William Hill King George VI Chase at Kempton on December 26, for which he would need to be supplemented, or the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown two days later.Having made a winning reappearance in the Listed Future Stars Chase at Sandown on November 8, the eight-year-old, owned by The Max Partnership and trained by Mark Bradstock, missed out on the Hennessy Gold Cup on November 28 with a bruised foot and tweaked muscle in his quarters after spreading a plate in the build-up.
‘In very good nick’
Speaking on Wednesday, assistant trainer Sara Bradstock told the Racing Post: “He’s absolutely on track but we haven’t worked him yet. He’s had a lot of physio and he’s in very good nick.
“He’s back cantering and he’ll work on Saturday or Sunday and we’ll see how much fitness he’s lost, but it shouldn’t have been much. We’ve got a couple of weeks anyway now. I said to the owners that if everything went smoothly than he should be fine [to run over Christmas].”
On a preferred Christmas target, Bradstock said: “The main factor will be what runs, what Willie Mullins is doing, and what the Irish are doing, because they seem to have all the best horses bar us.
“I know that Don Cossack is definitely going to Kempton. Vautour jumped so badly left at Ascot you would think he’d want to go left handed, and certainly on that run you wouldn’t mind taking him on.”
Five co-favourites for Gold Cup
Punchestown Gold Cup winner Don Cossack heads the sponsor’s King George betting at 5-2, with dual Cheltenham Festival winner Vautour next best at 3-1.
Hills make Coneygree a 7-1 chance for the Kempton showstopper, with Paddy Power offering the with-a-run caveat at 5-1.
The same names feature prominently in the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup market, with former sponsors Betfred going 6-1 the field for Cheltenham in March, a price that includes Don Cossack, Vautour, Coneygree, Djakadam and Don Poli.