JUMP racing was dealt a significant blow on Wednesday morning with the news that Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Coneygree would definitely miss the William Hill King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day, amid concern the defence of his festival crown might also be in jeopardy.
The Bradstocks’ stable star has suffered an interrupted season so far, missing the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury last month, and the eight-year-old has now been ruled out of the Kempton showpiece, which was his primary Christmas target.
Sara Bradstock, wife of trainer Mark, said: “Coneygree won’t run in the King George having sustained a new injury. He’s being assessed by vets this morning.”
The Max Partnership-owned horse returned to action with an emphatic 25-length victory at Sandown at the start of November and hopes were high of him lining up in what would have been a mouthwatering King George.
However, having sustaining a fresh injury doubts have been cast on whether Coneygree will be seen again this season at all.
Don Cossack was cut into a general 9-4 favourite for the King George, with Vautour 3-1 and Cue Card as short as 7-2.
Cue Card is now the shortest-priced British-trained challenger for the Timico-backed Gold Cup, with Irish-trained horses now dominating, with Djakadam, Don Cossack, Don Poli and Vautour the front-runners.
Coneygree’s omission from Kempton could of course sway other decisions, such as that to be made with Hennessy winner Smad Place.