Last Updated: 23/09/18 9:49am
Coneygree is being considered for a trip to Down Royal as the 2015 Gold Cup hero prepares for yet another comeback.
The 11-year-old has suffered more than his fair share of setbacks, both before and since becoming the first novice in 41 years to claim the blue riband at Cheltenham three and a half years ago.
He was pulled up on his first start of last season in the Charlie Hall at Wetherby after suffering an over-reach and again in the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury, with that disappointing effort put down to a wind problem.
Just as he was nearing a return earlier this year it was revealed he had suffered a stress fracture of his tibia, which resulted in him being ruled out for the rest of the campaign.
Despite his catalogue of injuries, Sara Bradstock, wife of trainer, Mark, is not giving up hope Coneygree will return and has identified the JNwine.com Champion Chase on November 3 as a potential early-season target.
She said: “Coneygree is in good form and there’s a few different approaches we’re taking to try and keep him sound. Everything is going well at the moment anyway, so fingers crossed it stays that way.
“When they’ve had a stress fracture like he did you can’t completely let them down. You have to be a bit careful, but he went out in the field for two weeks and he’s now back in fast work.”
She added: “I think we’re probably going to start him off going right-handed, to take some pressure off his left-hind leg.
“We could look at Down Royal, or there’s the open handicap at Ascot on the same day – the Sodexo Gold Cup.
“The only thing is you’d probably need a lot of rain to be running him in England, which is why we’re thinking Down Royal might be more suitable.
“If he goes lame again then we’ll retire him, but everything is going well at the moment, so fingers crossed it stays that way.”
Bradstock also provided a positive update on Step Back, who rounded off last season with victory in the bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown.
“He’s really good and I think we’re learning to deal with the tying up (muscle cramp) problems he’s had in the past,” Bradstock added.
“The Grand National is the long-term target and we’ll keep our options open in terms of where we start off.
“Whether we go for the Hennessy (Ladbrokes Trophy) or the Becher Chase, we’ll see.
“It will slightly depend on the ground, so we’ll see what happens.”