Dan Ashton was working from home when 2015 victor Coneygree arrived in his Gloucester cul-de-sac, carrying a “Cheltenham from home” hamper.
The 15-year-old gelding, who retired in 2019 and went on to compete in showing with his former trainer Mark Bradstock’s wife Sara, had been recruited by CheltenhamGuides.com to deliver “everything needed to recreate a day out at Cheltenham from home”.
Games designer Dan took delivery of a patch of racecourse turf, enough food and drink to “sustain a marathon week on the sofa”, a “signed” photo of Coneygree and a turf-scented candle, as well as two tickets for the 2022 Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Dan said: “It was such a surreal experience seeing Coneygree walk up my road. I couldn’t really believe what I was seeing when he came right up to my front door.
“As a huge racing fan, the year you have to watch Cheltenham from home you can’t ask for any more than a Gold Cup winner paying you a visit.
“To see a Gold Cup winner be on my doorstep was such an unbelievable experience. Coneygree was great to be around, he was so playful, really sweet and a lot of fun.
“Sadly I’m not going to be able to make my annual pilgrimage to Cheltenham this year, but I will be watching from home and looking forward to going again next year.”
Mrs Bradstock said Coneygree loves attention, and being admired.
“He enjoyed a career of feeling like a champion so it’s important that we always make him feel special,” she said.
“He’s a great character and would hate to be stood in a field — he likes to make sure he has a lot of attention and that everybody knows him and he definitely got a kick out of it.
“Coneygree is not just an incredible racehorse who gave us this wonderful day and wonderful year, he’s also our best friend.
Best Mate, Kauto Star and Coneygree — just some of the horses who have made Cheltenham Festival their own over
“She’s very grateful to everyone involved and Boris giving her a helping hand has helped.“She’s very grateful to everyone involved
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“He loved bringing a smile to Dan’s face and being the centre of attention on the street. It just goes to show how happy these wonderful animals make people and we were delighted to be able to cheer up a racegoer who is missing out on their big day this year.”
A CheltenhamGuides spokesman added: “In a year when fans can’t go to Cheltenham, we wanted to take Cheltenham to the fans and recruited Gold Cup hero Coneygree as the world’s first thoroughbred delivery horse to do that job.
“The crowd is what makes the Cheltenham Festival a truly unique meeting and we’re delighted that we can bring joy to our lucky competition winner, so he can enjoy the racing from the comfort of his own sofa with some extra treats.”
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