What price will Coneygree pay for Cheltenham heroics?
|October 23, 2015 02:46:32 PM|
Last March saw trainer Mark Bradstock make a little slice of history as he took on and beat the big guns in the Cheltenham Gold Cup with his novice chaser, Coneygree.
In winning at Cheltenham, Coneygree became the first novice in 41 years to land the blue riband.
Remarkably, Gold Cup glory had come on just his fourth start over fences.
Will his stunning, front-running success last March have taken its toll on the eight-year-old as he prepares to return as a second-season chaser?
Coneygree is at the time of writing 8.00 on betfair to go back to Cheltenham next March and retain his crown. There are, however, some ominous warning signs from the recent past for his supporters.
Starting with Denman's triumph in 2008, of the seven Gold Cup winners to precede Coneygree five have managed no more than one more career win (to date).
The ill-fated Synchronised of course perished a month later in the Grand National but for the likes of Denman, Imperial Commander, Bobs Worth and Lord Windermere their Cheltenham exploits have left a lasting impression.
The exceptions are the imperious two-time Cheltenham hero Kauto Star and 2011 winner Long Run.
On account of their shared running style, it is Denman with which the most obvious comparisons are likely to be drawn for Coneygree.
Both won the Gold Cup the hard way. Coneygree led almost from flag fall to repel all challengers while 'The Tank' took up the running going out on the final circuit, setting a remorseless gallop that sucked the life from his rivals long before the famous hill.
After his win Denman was never quite the same brutal force again, unable to reproduce that power packed sustained effort – save for his one additional career victory, the 2009 Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury where he shouldered top-weight for a memorable success.
Coneygree could be set to follow in Denman's footsteps once more, with Newbury already touted as his main early season target.
His bounding brilliance produced a fairytale success story last season but what will be written in the next chapter for Coneygree?