Coney­gree’s off to kerry na­tional

Racing Ahead - - JONATHAN POWELL -

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.


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