MARK Bradstock is confident Coneygree can get his career back on track in the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury today.
The 2015 Cheltenham Gold Cup hero will have to concede weight all round as he bids to provide his trainer with a second victory in the race following the victory of his half-brother Carruthers in 2011.
Coneygree, bred by the late Lord Oaksey, has suffered more than his fair share of problems since his career-defining success two and a half years ago.
He was most recently pulled up after suffering an over-reach in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby, but connections believe he is back on song.
“We think he is in very good form. We thought he was in fantastic form going to Wetherby, but it didn’t happen,” said Bradstock.
“There is no point crying over spilt milk. It’s frustrating, but worse things have happened. He’s still here and it’s all systems go.
“It is a hell of a weight to carry (11st 12lb), but where else do you go? He goes a hell of a lick and if he gets his jumping going it will be great.”
Sue Smith reports Wakanda to be in good shape ahead of his attempt to win At The Races Rehearsal Handicap Chase for a second time at Newcastle.
Successful in 2015, Ray and Margaret Scholey’s chaser returns for another crack at the prestigious prize after finishing fifth to Otago Trail 12 months ago.
The horse goes well for jockey Danny Cook and Bingley-based Smith is hopeful. “He ran quite a good race up at Kelso and he goes there in good form,” said the 2013 Grand National-winning trainer. “He’s a course and distance winner so we’re hoping for the best.”
At the age of six, Sam Red is the youngest horse in the line-up and heads to Newcastle after wins at Stratford an Fakenham. “He’ll love the ground. The track and trip are ideal and he should be competitive in an open race,” said trainer Dan Skelton.
Nicky Henderson is looking forward to Buveur D’Air starting his countdown to the defence of his Champion Hurdle crown in March when he lines up for the Unibet Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle.
Conditions seem certain to be testing but Henderson believes this will suit Barry Geragthy’s mount. “It’s always a good place to start. It’s a good race and we’ve got to see how that goes, but there’s a very, very long time to go until March,” he said.
Chaser Monbeg River could be heading for Ascot just before Christmas after jumping his rivals into the ground at Doncaster.
Connections of the Martin Todhunter-trained eight-year-old have a three-mile handicap chase at the Berkshire contest on December 23 in mind, after the 11-4 shot obliged in pleasing fashion.
Henry Brooke decided to take it up on Monbeg River with just four fences jumped and a full circuit of the track to cover. The tactics paid off. “It wasn’t the plan to go on.,” said the North Yorkshire rider.
“I was to settle him, but there wasn’t much pace on and he’s ended up going on and his jumping has kept him there. He’s a good jumper.”