CONEYGREE’S connections may have drawn stumps for this season – but they believe the 2015 Cheltenham Gold Cup hero can still return to the fray for one final crack at glory.

The fragile star of Mark Bradstock’s Letcombe Bassett stables, near Wantage, was ruled out for the rest of the campaign after suffering a stress fracture of his tibia.

Having undergone an operation to improve his breathing after being pulled up in the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury in December, it was hoped the 11-year-old would rediscover his best form in the second half of the season.

But he missed his intended prep race for Cheltenham in the Betfair Denman Chase at Newbury and has now been scratched from the Timico Gold Cup.

Bradstock’s wife and assistant, Sara, said: “We’ve had another dip on the roller-coaster ride that is Coneygree.

“He responded fantastically well to the wind operation and he has recently done a couple of incredible pieces of work – they really were quite startling.

“Sadly, he came back lame after the last one, so we sent him off for a bone scan which unfortunately revealed a stress fracture of his tibia.

“He’s out now, probably for the rest of the season as we don’t want to patch him up and go to Punchestown or something like that.

“It is incredibly disappointing as we really felt that extra spark he showed before he won the Gold Cup was back, but that’s Coneygree.

“Unfortunately, the engine is much stronger than the chassis.”

Despite the blow, Bradstock quashed thoughts of retirement.

“Hopefully we’ll give it one last go next season,” she added. “We’re not giving up yet.”

Meanwhile, Jaisalmer gave the Bradstocks a timely tonic when following up his Plumpton win by making all the running under Nico de Boinville to upset 4-9 favourite Distingo in a Fontwell novices’ hurdle.

On the Flat, jockey Oisin Murphy praised West Ilsley trainer Denis Coakley after Hors De Combat claimed the £55,555.56 first prize at Meydan in Dubai.

Murphy said: “It’s a fantastic training performance by Denis.

“He has got about ten horses in training, so to prepare one to compete on nights like this is fantastic.”

West Ilsley neighbour Mick Channon was in the winner’s enclosure at Ascot after Buildmeupbuttercup claimed a thrilling head success over Rosy World under Brian Hughes. A crack at the Grade 2 mares’ bumper at Aintree in April is now on the cards.

l William Reddy won the Dedication to Racing accolade at the 2018 Goldolphin Stud and Stable staff awards.

Reddy, head lad for Blewbury trainer Eve Johnson Houghton, and who has worked for the family at Woodway for 48 years, was honoured at Monday’s ceremony.

See more on Reddy’s award in next week’s Herald.