Leading right from the off, Nico de Boinville stretched the field and held off a spirited challenge from Ruby Walsh on Djakadam and Bryan Cooper on Road to Riches. The 7-1 shot looked to have missed his chance racing for the line, but experienced counted for nothing as Coneygree found a second win to hold on for a famous win.
Speaking after the race, De Boinville expressed his delight:
“It’s unbelievable. Words can’t describe it. He dug deep, but I always knew he had enough left”.
The 8 year old gelding, trained by Mark Bradstock had become the first novice steeplechaser to win the Cheltenham Festival’s blue riband event for over 40 years. Not since Captain Christy had this happened, which was made even more remarkable, due to the fact that Coneygree had not won over fences before the start of the 2015 season.
Soft Ground, a Key Factor
Delighted trainer, Bradstock revealed that if the ground hadn’t been as soft as it was, then he might not even have attempted to race. Fortunately for the novice, there had been overnight rain, making it possible for Coneygree to thrive in only his fourth race over fences.
“It was very dependent on the ground” added Bradstock “If we hadn’t had the rain, he could easily have been a non-runner”.
Retirement of A Great
Tony McCoy was vying to retire with a bang, but the 19 time champion jockey was unable to stay in touch with the leaders as the sprint for the line gathered pace, finishing in 7th on the 14-1 shot Carlingford Lough.
McCoy was full of praise for the novice winner:
“It was an unbelievable performance from a novice chaser. He got them at it early and stuck at it well”.
All the more remarkable was that Coneygree was trained by Bradstock at a small Oxfordshire stable with only around 10 horses.
“I’m numb. It’s wonderful. It won’t sink in for a while, but it’s great. We’ve done it before in smaller races and we’ll still keep doing it, but it’s fantastic to do it on the big stage”.
Another thrilling Cheltenham Gold Cup chase and the £313k prize money had gone to a very worthy winner.
A big result for Bradstock and owners The Max Partnership for sure, but it was also a big result for national hunt racing as whole. A sport that prides itself on its amateur roots had seen a very popular result this year, with a horse winning against much more well-funded stables threatening to dominate the sport.
Coneygree, with his modest roots had restored faith in the long term future of national hunt racing and thrilled the prestbury crowd in the process.