Coneygree, a British thoroughbred race horse foaled on 23rd February 2007, won the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2015. This win was special not only for the horse and people associated with him, but also for the organizers of the Gold Cup. That’s because Coneygree happens to be the first novice to win this prestigious event in more than four decades. The last novice to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup was Captain Christy, who tasted victory way back in 1974.
Coneygree: A bit of history
Coneygree is a bay horse bred by John Oaksey, who was one of the most well-known amateur jockeys of his time. Later in his life, Oaksey became a charity fundraiser and broadcaster and tasted reasonable success in those ventures.
Oaksey bred Coneygree from a mare named Plaid Maid just for fun. Actually, he wanted to make good use of his free time after retiring from his job of a racing correspondent for Daily Telegraph.
Coneygree has always been trained by Oaksey’s son-in-law Mark Bradstock, which makes the win at 2015 Gold Cup a major triumph even for Bradstock. Bradstock currently trains just ten horses and the eight-year-old Coneygree is surely one of the best among them.
About the win
It would not be an exaggeration if Coneygree’s performance at the 2015 edition of Cheltenham Gold Cup is called flawless. Right from the start, he kept showcasing how great he is at jumping and overcoming hurdles seamlessly. The rhythm the horse was in from the start is something jockeys can usually only dream about. This allowed his jockey De Boinville to get a strong lead during the first phase of the race. Most of the other participants galloped into submission right away. In the closing stages Coneygree and Boinville had to compete with just a couple of real rivals, Road to Riches and Djakadam. Eventually, the eight year old bay horse managed to beat Road to Riches and Djakadam respectively by two and one and half lengths.
When asked about his feelings after winning the race, the jockey said that the experience is “unbelievable” and stated that it’s impossible to describe what he is actually feeling. According to De Boinville, although Coneygree had to put in a lot of effort for securing the lead when the race began, he (the jockey) was confident that the horse is fit enough to finish the race with the same vigour.
The race saw retiring jockey AP McCoy’s and his horse finish at the ninth spot. McCoy was on Carlingford Lough during the 2015 Gold Cup.
Silviniaco Conti, who was one of the favourites when the race began, offered some competition initially, but failed to stay close to the winner as he suddenly increased his speed. Eventually, Silviniaco Conti finished at the seventh spot.
McCoy, who ended his career after the 2015 Gold Cup, won the race twice before retiring. When asked about his failure, he said that he knew that things will not be easy right from the time he stepped into the venue that morning.
According to McCoy, Coneygree appears to be a horse that is extremely fond of running on good ground. He added that it’s absolutely unbelievable that a novice steeplechaser has ended up delivering such amazing performance beating some of the real big names of the sport. McCoy feels that what’s really amazing about the bay horse’s performance is that it not only managed to speed up very early in the race, but succeeded in sticking to that speed right till the end.
Another factor that appeared to work in Coneygree’s favour is the overnight rain. The horse seemed to thrive in the reasonably soft ground. For him, running became easier than ever before and that’s the reason why he managed to offer such incredible performance in spite of participating in a race over fences just for the fourth time.
Mark Bradstock said that the win can be largely attributed to the condition of the ground during the event. He was clear that without the overnight rain, the story could have been absolutely different.
As expected Bradstock was ecstatic to witness this performance by Coneygree as he beat Djakadam, Riches to Road, and Holywell. Like jockey De Boinville, Bradstock was also finding it difficult to express his feelings about the win. The trainer, who trains his horses at a stable in Oxfordshire, said that he has got absolutely numb after witnessing such a wonderful performance by Coneygree. He added that it would take time for the reality to sink in and that’s actually a great thing.
The main reason behind such reactions from the trainer is that although his horses have managed to win a number of smaller races so far, they didn’t manage to emerge triumphant at such a big phase.
The same can be said even about De Boinville; he is operating started operating as a professional jockey just around a year before winning the 2015 Cheltenham Gold Cup. Boinville said that he was confident that he has the qualities to shine in big events, but has always believed that only good horses can allow jockeys to showcase their actually ability. Boinville added that he is really grateful to Bradstock and his team in Oxfordshire for keeping faith in him in spite of knowing that he has just began his journey as a professional jockey.
Thanks to his injury-prone body, the recent months haven’t been good for Coneygree. He couldn’t participate in the 2016 and 2017 editions of the Gold Cup due to injury. According to Sara Bradstock, wife of Coneygree’s trainer Mark, they are not allowing the horse to participate in any racing event as they don’t want him to aggravate his injury. When asked what kind of injury has kept the horse out of the 2017 edition of the race, Sara informed that he has niggle in the region where the knee meets the cannon bone. She added that the horse seems to have recovered partially from the injury and has started walking. However, before taking part in races, the horse will need to start swimming and racing comfortably. If everything goes well, the world will again see Coneygree winning races consistently.
Jason Coote is the founder of many websites and known gambler in Great Britain.