The niggling injuries which have beset 2015 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Coneygree, since his comeback race in the Betfair Chase, are set to rule him out of the latest renewal of the blue riband event at Cheltenham in March.
The 10 year old missed an intended run in the King George VI Chase at Kempton Park over Christmas, as the Bradstocks, who train the horse, felt he was not right.
It was later revealed that if he made it to Cheltenham, with the proviso that there was no certainty he would, then it would be without a preparatory race.
However, those hopes now appear to have been dashed, as Sara Bradstock said on Monday: “We’re not going to enter him in the Gold Cup. If everything changed and suddenly everything looked perfect, his x-rays and him, we could supplement him, but I’m not going to enter him because I’m 90 per cent certain he will not run.
“It’s all too quick. It’s only two months from now and he’s still only walking and we’re not going to be there in top form,” she announced.
“He’ll definitely have some spring target and could go to Aintree or Punchestown unless something else goes wrong,” she said. “We just need to do this right,” Bradstock added.
She later gave a more detailed explanation of the issue Coneygree has, saying: “I’m afraid it’s (Gold Cup) not going to happen, which is a real shame. When you have a horse like this you must not take any risks and there is no point going there half-baked.”
She went on: “He has just niggled the bone, where the cannon bone meets the knee. He is still walking at the moment, but we must not take a risk as these niggling things can turn into fractures.
“We will not rush him and we will make sure he is fine before he comes back.
“He will do plenty of swimming and other stuff. Hopefully he will go to Punchestown and win the Irish equivalent.”
She added: “We might just give him a change of scenery and run him in the French Champion Hurdle, which is over three miles and is usually run on soft ground.
“He might possibly make Aintree, but only time will tell.
“I think we ran him on ground we had not trained him on at Haydock, as it had only rained those two days there and there had been no soft ground to train him on.
“He ran a great race at Haydock, but he might have been feeling this coming on.
“He has no miles on the clock and I’m hoping he can become a veteran record-breaker and a novice record-breaker.
“He is in very good nick, mentally, and is full of himself.”