Cheltenham Gold Cup 2015 – Coneygree

The 2015 Cheltenham Gold Cup was a competitive renewal, with 16 runners, including the 2013 winner Bobs Worth, facing the starter. Silvianico Conti, trained by Paul Nicholls, had finished fourth in the 2014 Cheltenham Gold Cup after an arguably unlucky fall at the third last in the 2013 renewal; the nine-year-old arrived at Prestbury Park fresh from his second consecutive victory in the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day and, unsurprisingly, was sent off favourite at 3/1.

Coneygree, trained by Mark Bradstock, had won all three starts over fences, including a bloodless, 30-length victory in the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day. Despite his inexperience, he started 7/1 joint-second favourite alongside subsequent Grand National-winner Many Clouds, trained by Oliver Sherwood.

Ridden by Nico De Boinville, who had won on him twice before over fences, Coneygree led from flagfall and soon silenced his doubters by jumping well at the head of affairs. He still held a 2-length advantage over his nearest pursuers, the Irish-trained pair Road To Riches and Djakadam, at the second-last fence and, although drifting right on the run-in, stayed on gamely to win by 1½ lengths. In so doing, Coneygree became the first novice to win the Cheltenham Festival showpiece since the seven-year-old Captain Christy, trained by Pat Taaffe and ridden by Bobby Beasley, beat The Dikler and Game Spirit by 5 lengths and 20 lengths in 1974.

Djakadam rallied on the run-in to take second, 2 lengths ahead of Road To Riches, while Holywell, trained by Jonjo O’Neill, stayed on to finish fourth, a further 6 lengths away. Silviano Conti travelled well for most of the way but, when push came to shove from the top of the hill could find only one pace and eventually finished seventh, beaten 27 lengths.

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