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Saturday 24 June 2017

Coney' Blow

Jockey Nico de Boinville celebrates on Coneygree after winning the 2015 Cheltenham Gold Cup. Pic: Sportsfile
Jockey Nico de Boinville celebrates on Coneygree after winning the 2015 Cheltenham Gold Cup. Pic: Sportsfile

The 2015 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Coneygree missed out on the chance to defend his crown last year and assistant trainer Sara Bradstock revealed that her husband Mark's stable star won't have an entry for this years renewal either.

April's Punchestown Festival and the prestigious Punchestown Gold Cup on the second day of the Irish National Hunt finale is now the target for the 10-year-old who has raced just nine times so far in a career that has been blighted by setbacks.

Coneygree was second in the Betfair Chase back in November but was forced to miss the King George at Kempton and now connections have had to concede defeat with Cheltenham just over eight weeks away and entries closing for the Gold Cup this week.

Bradstock said yesterday: "When you have a horse like this you must not take any risks and there is no point going there half-baked. He has just niggled the bone, where the cannon bone meets the knee. He is still walking at the moment, but we must not take a risk as these niggling things can turn into fractures."

She added: "He will do plenty of swimming and other stuff. Hopefully he will go to Punchestown and win the Irish equivalent. We will not rush him and we will make sure he is fine before he comes back."

Despite the fact that he is now 10, Bradstock is in no rush with Coneygree and expects him to continue racing for sometime yet once this latest niggle clears up.

"He has no miles on the clock and I'm hoping he can become a veteran record-breaker and a novice record-breaker.

"He is in very good nick, mentally, and is full of himself."

Yesterday's news has seen Thistlecrack shorten in the betting for the Cheltenham Gold Cup and he is now 8/11 from 5/6 with BoyleSports to replicate Coneygree and win the famous race as a novice.

Meanwhile, Don Cossack remains on course for a return to action next month as last year's Gold Cup winner continues his preparation with trainer Gordon Elliott.

Eddie O'Leary described Don Cossack's situation as "so far, so good" as he recovers from an injury that has forced him out since Cheltenham last March.

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