Horseracing: Deputy Dan ducks controversy to net first win
An impressive first victory over fences for the exciting Deputy Dan was overshadowed by the controversial withdrawal of Coneygree prior to the SIS Novices' Chase at Plumpton.
Although just four runners went to post for the two-and-a-half-mile contest, an enthralling race was in prospect, with Deputy Dan and Far West looking to build upon their promising chasing debut and Coneygree, who won twice over hurdles at Grade Two level for Mark Bradstock, set to make his first appearance in 660 days.
At the request of the starter, Coneygree was examined by the acting veterinary surgeon and on his advice was not allowed to run, much to the annoyance of his connections.
Sara Bradstock, the trainer's wife, said: "We would not bring anything to the races that wasn't 100 per cent.
"It's a big thing for us getting this horse back to the races - it's the horse that can make us and can keep us afloat. Nico (de Boinville, jockey), who is very much a horseman, said there was nothing wrong with the horse."
Explaining the withdrawal, senior veterinary surgeon Rob Van Pelt said: "The starter asked the vet to look at the horse and the horse nodded for the vet, which is a sign of lameness and the vet recommended that the horse not run."
A report issued by the stewards stated Coneygree was found to be lame at the start, but "after later examination was found to be sound."
The report will now be forwarded to the British Horseracing Authority.
Meanwhile, Deputy Dan jumped soundly, albeit a little right on occasions, in the hands of Leighton Aspell and the 5/6 favourite saw off the Paul Nicholls-trained Far West by two-and-a-quarter lengths.
Oliver Sherwood's charge now qualifies for a £60,000 bonus if he goes on to land first place in any race over fences at the Cheltenham Festival.
At Leicester, Three Kingdoms made an impressive debut over fences when taking the two-mile beginners' chase. Formerly trained by Dermot Weld, Three Kingdoms (7/4) showed good form in novice hurdles for John Ferguson last season and the five-year-old was held up just off the pace by Brian Hughes as Thomas Crapper made the early running.
Crapper - who has been placed behind Court Minstrel and Vibrato Valtat on his two runs over fences - kept on well but was well held by Three Kingdoms which pulled three lengths clear with the smart Deep Trouble showing some promise on his chasing bow back in third.