Coneygree’s off to kerry national
FOR jumping enthusiasts eager for serious action the core season is still more than a month away.
So top marks to Mark and Sarah Bradstock for sportingly aiming their hardy Gold Cup winner Coneygree at the Kerry National at Listowel on September 13.
Coneygree is one of those frustrating horses who has had more than his share of training problems but on his day, given plenty of cut underfoot, he is still most definitely one of the best chasers on either side of the Irish Sea.
His last campaign was again seriously interrupted by injury before he bounced back with a brilliant performance at the Punchestown Festival at the end of April.
He has been ticking over nicely since then ahead of the trip to Listowel, the most picturesque course in Eire, where he looks sure to carry top weight.
Sara Bradstock, daughter of Coneygree’s breeder, the late Lord Oaksey, recalls,“Dad bred him from his tough-asteak mare Plaid Maid who won several times over fences ridden by AP McCoy.
“On one occasion at Exeter AP said he loved riding Plaid Maid because she tried almost as hard as him!
“Coneygree has the same superb attitude and has definitely improved since Punchestown where the ground was a shade faster than ideal which we feel was why his jumping wasn’t quite as foot perfect as usual.”
Time spent on reconnaissance is seldom wasted and one of the Bradstocks reasons for sending their stable star to Listowel is to discover how he will handle the demands of giving weight to all his rivals.
Further ahead they are toying with the idea of aiming him at the Ladbroke Trophy at Newbury on December 2,a race which was still known as the Hennessy Gold Cup when it was won in typically spirited fashion by Coneygree’s half brother Carruthers in 2011.
Those of a certain age may remember that John Oaksey won the Hennessy on Taxidermist way back in 1958 when he was called John Lawrence before he inherited the title from his father who was the senior British judge at the Nuremberg trials into the crimes of Nazi leaders at the end of the Second World War.
While recently watching a black and white film of that race, run at Cheltenham, I struggled to find any mention of Taxidermist and his jockey until the final enthralling seconds of the finish.
No wonder! Taxi jumped the last fence in eleventh place before producing a turbo-charged run on the unforgiving hill that took him into the lead in the shadow of the post.