Saturday 7 December 2019

Cheltenham Gold Cup 2015

The 2015 Cheltenham Gold Cup, sponsored by Betfred, featured 16 runners and had the distinction of being the first to be won by a novice since Captain Christy in 1974. The novice in question, on this occasion, was Coneygree, an 8-year-old gelding bred by the late John Oaksey and trained by his son-in-law Mark Bradstock at Lettcombe Bassett, near Wantage, Oxfordshire.

Prior to running in the Gold Cup, Coneygree had returned from a 671-day break to win all three starts over fences, including the Grade 1 Kauto Star Novices’ Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day, making all and jumping well on each occasion. Toying with the idea of running Coneygree in the “Blue Riband” event, Bradstock said, “Touching wood, he is a very good jumper. He’s only had three runs [in steeplechases], but looks like he knows what he's doing, and he's not won over fences here [at Cheltenham] but has won twice over hurdles.”

Silviniaco Conti, trained by Paul Nicholls and ridden by Ruby Walsh, was sent off 3/1 favourite to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup at the third time of asking. Nicholls’ charge had fallen at the third last when travelling well in 2013 and finished fourth, beaten 1¾ lengths, behind Lord Windermere in 2014, having only been headed in the final hundred yards or so. The Dom Alco gelding had 7lb and upwards in hand of his rivals on official figures, but otherwise the Gold Cup had a distinctly open look to it. Coneygree and Many Clouds were sent off joint second favourites at 7/1, with Holywell and Road To Riches joint third favourites at 8/1, and 10/1 bar.

In any event, regular jockey Nico De Boinville soon had Coneygree in his customary position at the head of affairs and, although drifting right up the famous Cheltenham hill, never really looked like being beaten. He stayed on very gamely in the closing stages to beat Djakadam by 1½ lengths with Road To Riches a further 2 lengths away in third. Bradstock said afterwards, “I’m numb, it’s wonderful. It won’t sink in for a while, but it’s great.”

As a footnote, perennial champion jockey A.P. McCoy, riding in his last Cheltenham Gold Cup, finished ninth on Carlingford Lough.

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