Former Gold Cup hero Coneygree enjoying life in retirement

Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Coneygree could be seen in the show jumping arena in 2021.

It is five years since Mark and Sara Bradstock’s pride and joy became the first novice since Captain Christy in 1974 to win the blue riband of steeplechasing in the Cotswolds – the undoubted highlight of an injury-interrupted but glorious career.

Time was called on his racing days after he was pulled up at Ascot in February of last year, and he has since made a smooth transition to showing events – winning Retraining of Racehorses showing classes before parading on the opening day of last season’s Cheltenham Festival.

Sara Bradstock with Coneygree after his Gold Cup triumph
Sara Bradstock with Coneygree after his Gold Cup triumph (Ben Birchall/PA)

Sara Bradstock had hoped to qualify Coneygree for the prestigious Tattersalls Show Series Final at Hickstead in June, but with the coronavirus pandemic causing that event to be cancelled, she is now considering heading down a different route.

“Coneygree is in very good shape,” she said.

“He’d been doing a bit of showing, but he was still looking a bit like a racehorse, so we got him all fattened up for this summer and of course everything was off because of coronavirus.

“When he retired you wouldn’t have wanted to jump him because he’d have been a bit too cocky, but he’s back feeling good, so we might have a bit of a play with some show jumping at some stage.”

Now a 13-year-old, Coneygree certainly seems to have lost none of his appetite for jumping judged on a recent video posted on the Bradstocks’ Twitter feed.

Bradstock said: “We will look at show jumping – albeit at speed! To be honest it’s just finding the time to do it, as I’m very busy with the racehorses.

“At the moment all show jumping is indoors, which isn’t really fair on him as a way to start. We’ll fiddle away doing a bit of schooling and when he gets there we’ll take him to a show and see what he can do.”

Bradstock feels it is important horses are given the opportunity to enjoy life once their racing days are over, adding: “Coneygree likes going out and doing things. These good horses don’t like being deserted and like being the centre of attention.

“The great thing is his owners were sensible enough to make him a pension fund when he was winning a lot of money racing, which means they can now pay for his vets bills and contribute to his costs.

“I sort of think good horses should have a pension. All horses deserve to be looked after, but if horses as good as him get left in the field, it’s a bad thing.

“Thankfully, he has a lovely life, with a lot of people coming to look at him getting fat!”