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Coneygree storms into Gold Cup picture

Exciting novice Coneygree made mincemeat of more experienced rivals when cruising to success in the Denman Chase at Newbury, and is now 10/1 (from 20s) with Coral for next month’s Cheltenham Gold Cup.

The Mark Bradstock trained gelding was having just his third run over the obstacles, but jumped impeccably throughout to land the Grade 2 contest in terrific style.

The eight-year-old attacked the fences with relish and made all in the hands of Richard Johnson to score by seven lengths from a useful yardstrick in Hennessey runner-up Houblon De Obeaux.
Coneygree won with more in hand than the winning margin suggests, and had the race sewn up to from home when surging clear under a hands and heels ride.

The manner of the success suggested that he would be a live contender for the Gold Cup on Friday, March 13th, should connections take the bold step to run him in the blue riband event rather than the RSA for which he is a 5/1 shot with Coral.

If Coneygree goes on to win the Gold Cup, he will follow in the illustrious foosteps of Kauto Star (2007) and Denman (2008) who won the Newbury contest before triumphing at Prestbury Park.
Many will be quick to point out that novices have a poor record in the 3m 2f contest, with the last to win it being the mighty Captain Cristy back in 1974.

However, to me eyes there is no reason why Coneygree should not take his chance in what is a wide open renewal if you take out the favourite Silviniaco Conti.

Coneygree has all the right attributes for the big race as he jumps superbly and gallops on relentlessly.

Stamina is not an issue, and if allowed to bowl along at the head of affairs the son of Karinga Bay will put his rivals under pressure from an early stage and could prove very tough to peg back.

It’s also worth remembering that Coneygree was off the track with injury for 671 days before reappearing at Newbury back in November, and I don’t think that his owners will want to pass up having a crack at the Gold Cup whilst he is at the top of his game as they will surely have that in the back of their minds.

Connections say that they will make a decision on whether to go for the Gold Cup or RSA nearer the time, but if he were mine there is no doubt that he would be lining up in the former.