Big names continue to target Haydock chase

Coneygree ridden by jockey Nico de Boinville jumps the last prior to winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2015

Coneygree ridden by jockey Nico de Boinville jumps the last prior to winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2015

Coneygree took a crucial step closer to a possible return to action in Haydock’s Betfair Chase on Saturday week with a racecourse gallop at the Merseyside track.

Partnered by his regular race rider Nico de Boinville, the 2015 Cheltenham Gold Cup hero worked over two miles with two stablemates helping him out.

Connections of the Mark Bradstock-trained nine-year-old were delighted with the exercise as Coneygree showed he has completely recovered from injury that has kept him off the track since last November.

“We are all very excited, he was great,” said Bradstock’s wife and assistant, Sara following the 350-mile round trip from their Oxfordshire base.

“We took him all the way to Haydock because we’d been desperate to get him on some grass and down here it would all be too fast.

“They very kindly said he could gallop there. He went two miles, the first mile and a half with a young horse and then when he got tired old Carruthers jumped in with him.

“Nico rode Coneygree then hot-footed it to Exeter where he had a winner, so he’s had a good day.

“The Betfair is where we are trying to go. They had beautiful ground there and were kind enough to let us go there, but they will need some more rain or else it will get dry. I’m hopeful they will and that it will be OK.”

Tom George is also keen to give God’s Own a crack at the Betfair Chase at Haydock.

A three-times Grade One winner over two and two-and-a-half miles, he has not run over the three miles he would tackle on Merseyside since his point-to-pointing days.

Were the ground to come up soft, though, he could head to Ascot for the Stella Artois 1965 Chase on the same afternoon over two-miles-five.

“It (Betfair Chase) is very much on the agenda but it very much depends on what the ground does,” said George.

“If it’s soft ground he won’t go, but if it’s good to soft he’ll be okay on that.

“He’ll also have an entry at Ascot on the same day. He’s in great form and we’ve had to step his work up a bit, but he’s really thriving for it.

“We put him on the scales the other day and he’s put a few more kilos on again.”