Coneygree team forced to rethink return plan.
Byline: Scott Burton
CONNECTIONS of Coneygree say they will now be forced to pitch their stable star straight into a Grade 2 novice race on his chasing debut as their anger over his controversial withdrawal on veterinary advice at Plumpton showed no signs of diminishing.
Sara Bradstock, wife of trainer Mark, admitted there appeared little chance of legal recourse after the seven-year-old was denied a return from a 660-day break.
But she is determined not to let the matter rest and said yesterday: "I'm incandescent with rage. I've spent the morning with two vets and Coneygree is 100 per cent sound. There was nothing wrong with him yesterday. Even then he was sound, he just lost his balance when Nico [de Boinville, jockey] pulled him up on bottomless ground."
Citing the reduced number of nonhandicap novice chases in the calendar, Bradstock is now resigned to giving the dual Grade 2 hurdle winner his first start over fences in the Fuller's London Pride Novice Chase at Newbury on Friday week.
"The reason he hadn't run for two years is we've been looking after him because he's a really good horse," she added. "He's had various little things. He went to the races prepared to the minute. They have completely messed with his whole year."
Bradstock said she believed guidelines over horses returning from a long layoff had not been followed, with the horse not having been trotted up when arriving in the racecourse stables.
But BHA spokesman Robin Mounsey said the authority was confident proper procedures had been adhered to.
"The racecourse vet at the start would not be aware of whether any pre-race examinations had or hadn't taken place," he said. "They base their assessments purely on the evidence in front of them, using their professional judgement.
"If they have any concerns over soundness they inform the starter, who has the authority to withdraw the horse. The guidance to vets is quite clear in that they should err on the side of caution and the welfare of the horse must come first."