Coneygree put in an impressive run to win the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup for the Bradstock family today (Friday 13 March).
The novice chaser was on just his fourth outing over fences for trainer Mark Bradstock, and became the first novice since Captain Christy in 1974 to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Coneygree was bred by the late Lord Oaksey — former jockey, commentator and founder of the Injured Jockeys Fund — and his widow Lady Oaksey is a part-owner of the horse. His daughter Sara is married to trainer Mark.
The eight-year-old made all the running in 3m2f Grade One race under jockey Nico de Boinville. Coneygree stayed throughout, fighting off tough competition from top contenders along the way.
“It’s the best feeling ever, unbelievable, I’m lost for words,” said Nico. “It was a great plan (to go for the Gold Cup). They knew the weather gods were looking down on us — the rain came at the right time, ideal.”
The horse is schooled at home by Mark’s son, showjumper Alfie Bradstock, who is stable jockey for H&H columnist Graham Fletcher.
“He is just amazing. He is the most pleasant horse to work with — he does everything you ask him and just tries so hard with everything,” said the young showjumper.
Nico added: “Coneygree is so deceptive. Even when he is in tight, he is brilliant. It is all thanks to the Bradstock family including Alfie, who showjumps him and gets him to know where his feet are.
“It’s just unbelievable. These horses only come once in a lifetime and I am very grateful. It’s still sinking in.”
Trainer Mark Bradstock said the afternoon was “wonderful”.
“Coneygree is a gorgeous, gorgeous horse and it is just so tragic that Sara’s dad [Lord Oaksey] wasn’t here. I am sure he was probably still watching us now,” he said.
Sara added: “He is wonderful. Dad’s not here, but he is here in spirit. I can’t believe it. I have been saying to people ‘when we win the Gold Cup’ in the same breath that I say ‘when we win the lottery’ — it’s that amazing.
“The little mare [Coneygree’s dam, Plaid Maid, also dam of 2011 Hennessy Gold Cup winner Carruthers] cost £3,000 and look what she’s done. Fairytales do happen.
“It’s because my father was the greatest. That’s where we’ve got this luck from; he deserved it and he’s looking down.”
The race’s youngest runner, six-year-old Djakadam, trained by Willie Mullins, edged past Road To Riches on the run-in, finishing a length and a half behind the winner.
The Noel Meade-trained Road To Riches was a further two lengths behind, while Holywell took fourth.