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Coneygree doubt stirs Hennessy prices

Annual festival will become two-day 'blockbuster' next year

Malcolm Howe

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Malcolm Howe

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Hennessy 04

Nicky Henderson has Bobs Worth in the field

THREE will become two after another record-breaking bet365 Hennessy Festival weekend next week at Newbury Racecourse.

With prize money up by £85,000, this will be the final three-day festival as from 2016, the annual winter jumps showpiece will revert to a ‘blockbuster’ two day meeting.

The three-day show will bow out with some top class racing, especially in next Saturday’s featured Hennessy Gold Cup, over which the only shadow looming is the possible involvement of the top weight and potential favourite Coneygree.

The horse trained by Lambourn’s Mark and Sara Bradstock threw a shoe on Monday and was reported lame, and the horse’s participation will depend upon being able to undergo a weekend gallop.

“He pulled a shoe off which at the time didn't seem to be causing a problem,” said Sara Bradstock. “But he has either bruised his foot or is brewing an abscess and he is lame behind.

“We are hoping if it is an abscess it will pop out and everything will be OK, or if it is a bruise it might not be. If he misses a gallop at the weekend, he won't run in the Hennessy so we need to have a shoe on by Thursday.

“They go very lame as it is like having a swelling under a nail but if you release the pressure, it can come right almost immediately.

“It’s frustrating because it was very exciting at Sandown, to see him back doing what he does. He came out of the race very fresh and well and did plenty of leaping around and spread a plate."

Coneygree’s involvement or not will alter the betting and potentially open up what is already a field packed with star turns, and a number of those were out on show at Newbury this week.

Nick Henderson has old favourite Bobs Worth attempting to reclaim the cup although the trainer is concerned about the effect of Coneygree not having the urn.

“Bob's Worth is going for the Hennessy,” he said. “He enjoyed himself when winning at Aintree the other day over hurdles.

“We thought Coneygree was going to keep the weights down in the Hennessy but we will have to see what happens to him. Bobs Worth has gone down to a rating of 151 for a previous Hennessy and Gold Cup winner which is tempting and means he is on an attractive handicap mark."

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