Coneygree team retain faith in star chaser
Last Updated: 06/12/17 11:56am
Connections of Coneygree remain confident there is another "big day" in the 2015 Cheltenham Gold Cup hero after confirming he will undergo a minor wind operation on Thursday.
Having rounded off last season with a tremendous effort to finish third behind Sizing John and Djakadam at Punchestown, trainer Mark Bradstock and his wife Sara headed into the new campaign with renewed optimism that the 10-year-old could rediscover his glory days.
However, he was pulled up after suffering an overreach on his reappearance in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby and again failed to complete in Saturday's Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury, with jockey Nico de Boinville reporting afterwards that his mount was suffering from a respiratory problem.
Sara Bradstock said: "He's going to go and have his soft palate cauterised on Thursday.
"He had a very bad soft palate as a baby and had a few wind operations, but obviously that was a while ago now and he just needs a bit of help with it again.
"He's come out of the race absolutely fine and fresh as a daisy, so I think we can be fairly sure that was the problem."
Coneygree could return to competitive action as soon as next month, with a return to Cheltenham for the first time since his Gold Cup heroics under consideration.
"What he did do during the early part of the race on Saturday was jump and gallop, which was nice to see after what happened up at Wetherby as that could have knocked his confidence. He looked like he was up for it until he couldn't breathe," Bradstock continued.
"He'll have 10 days off (after the operation) and then we'll slowly build him back up again.
"I think we'll be looking to run in January. It would be nice if he can maybe run in a handicap somewhere to try to give him a confidence-boosting win, although if we feel he's really flying then we'll look at the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham."
She added: "We think we've got his legs sorted and then this crops up, but that's him - it's one thing after another.
"We think the engine is still as good as ever and we'll get him back for a big day somewhere along the line."