CONEYGREE, the unbeaten novice hurdler part-owned by Alan Waller from Ashton Keynes, could target the Ladbrokes World Hurdle for top stayers now that four-time winner Big Buck's has been retired for the season due to injury.
Coneygree, owned and bred by a syndicate including Waller and the late Lord Oaksey’s wife Chicky, made it three from three over hurdles with an impressive win at Cheltenham on Saturday. Among his well beaten rivals was former Grand National winner Mon Mome. Jockey Mattie Batchelor made the running at a strong pace on Coneygree and when the Paul Nicholls-trained Aerial challenged at his quarters after the final flight, the Mark Bradstock-trained stayer sped away up the final hill.
He is now favourite for the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at the Festival in March, but connections will consider taking on his elders in the World Hurdle.
Sara Bradstock, the trainer's wife and assistant, said: “He will have one run before the Festival – hopefully it will be around the end of January in maybe something like the Challow Hurdle (Newbury). He's earned a crack at a race like that.
“He was most impressive (on Saturday). We wanted to see if he'd stay three miles and I don't think there’s any doubt now.
"Would we be tempted by the World Hurdle now there is no Big Buck's?', we'd have to be.”
Paul Nicholls saddled four winners on the Saturday card while Birdlip-based jockey Jason Maguire won at Cheltenham 24 hours earlier on possible RSA Chase prospect Super Duty, who is trained by Donald McCain and jumped superbly.