Gold Cup winner back in the groove after Wetherby mishap
Trainer Mark Bradstock is confident Coneygree can get his career back on track in the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury on Saturday.
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 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.
Bradstock said: “We think he is in very good form. We thought he was in fantastic form going to Wetherby, but it didn’t happen.
“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.”
Total Recall appears a particularly strong candidate, having made a hugely impressive debut for the yard in the Munster National at Limerick in October.
Trainer Willie Mullins said: “Everything went well for Total Recall at Limerick. He came through and won very handily in the end.
“It’s a huge test, three miles plus around Newbury. If he is good enough you needs loads of stamina in that race and we think he has that.”
Nicky Henderson, who has won the race with Trabolgan, Bobs Worth and Triolo D’Alene, fires a twin assault with Whisper and Vyta Du Roc.
The Seven Barrows handler said: “Whisper was great last year. He does deserve to win a real good race.
“I thought Vyta Du Rock ran very nicely at Aintree and he comes into this race in brilliant form.
“He has got stamina in abundance, that’s for sure.”
The Harry Fry-trained American has had this race as his major objective since he extended his unbeaten record over fences to three at Uttoxeter in March.
Fry said: “It’s a big ask coming to a race like this first time out, but that’s why he’s been to Wincanton and Newbury (for racecourse gallops).
“We are happy with where he is and when he’s right, he’s very good.”
Paul Nicholls’ chief hope is Present Man, who has won his last two starts under leading conditional Bryony Frost, who keeps the ride.
The Ditcheat handler said: “He is still improving and who knows where he will end up.
“It is a like a lot of horses – he has just got older and stronger.”
Nigel Twiston-Davies is double-handed with Cogry and Double Ross, who was third in this race 12 months ago.
He said: “Cogry did absolutely nothing wrong at Cheltenham.
“I think he’s got a good chance. We probably made too much use of him (Double Ross) at Newbury last year and will ride him with more restraint this time round.”
Singlefarmpayment was runner-up behind Cogry at Cheltenham on his latest appearance and trainer Tom George expects him to have improved for the run.
The Slad handler said: “It’s obviously a competitive race, but we’ve got him as good as we can get him.
“Let’s just hope he turns up at his best on the day.”
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