Injuries are part and parcel of Jump racing. Never a year goes by without one of the leading lights being extinguished before a single Turkey has been stuffed.
By extinguished, I do of course mean temporarily. Cue Card, Sprinter Sacre, Sir Des Champs and just yesterday O’Faolains Boy are great examples of horses returning in style from periods on the sickbed.
However, for many who are passionate about this wonderful sport, yesterday’s news of injury to the Gold Cup winner Coneygree would still have come as a sickening blow, especially as the staying chase division was promising to be the most exciting in living memory. I may be prone to exaggeration at times, but to lose the Champion when Vautour, Don Cossack, Don Poli, Djakadam, Road To Riches, Cue Card and Smad Place, to name just seven, were all lined up to challenge come March is somewhat deflating.
Just yesterday morning in his Weekender column, Tom Segal (Pricewise) had said: “This is a golden generation of staying chasers and March can’t come quickly enough.”
Of course the show will go on. Let’s hope and pray that Coneygree is back on track as soon as possible. In the meantime we still have the mouth-watering prospect of two corking Christmas crackers; with the King George at Kempton and the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown. The list of contenders for both remains spectacular. Questions will be asked, and hopefully plenty of answers will be forthcoming.
Among them, is will the mighty Vautour stay the three mile trip at Kempton, at the furious and relentless pace that is sure to be set by both Cue Card and Silviniaco Conti? Another is will Don Cossack’s jumping hold up under the immense test of a fast flat track three miles, against tried and tested King George opposition? And is Cue Card truly rid of those breathing issues, allowing him the opportunity to repeat the stunning performance witnessed in that Betfair Chase victory at Haydock?
Whilst over in Ireland can Don Poli convince his doubters that he is truly a potential Gold Cup winner, or will Djakadam prove too talented and simply too classy for his highly thought of stable companion? Can the forgotten horse, Road To Riches, repeat his success of 12 months ago? Or maybe another Gigginstown inmate, Sir Des Champs, can turn back the clock and propel himself to the head of the Gold Cup market.
It’s certainly sad for the Bradstock’s that their star has been struck down with the dust hardly yet settled on that momentous Gold Cup winning campaign. Thankfully in his absence, we have a glut of potential stars vying for top honours.
Unlike Mr Segal, I’ll just say that Christmas can’t come quickly enough. Thoughts of March can wait just a little while longer. Just a little.