Cheltenham Festival 2016 RESULTS LIVE horse racing: Ladies Day races

Big brother Coneygree may be absent from the Festival this week but his feisty, younger sibling Flintham will be trying to uphold family honour this afternoon.

Last year’s Gold Cup winner Coneygree, the first novice to win the Gold Cup for 41 years, is still recuperating from the leg injury which ended his season at the Oxfordshire stable of his trainer Mark Bradstock and his wife Sara.

Flintham faces x rivals in the Pertemps Hurdle Final, having qualified with gutsy win in his qualifying race at Warwick in January when making all the running under top weight.

It was a Coneygree-style effort that demonstrated the tough streak that runs through the sons and daughters of the mare Plaid Maid, who also produced 2011 Hennessy Gold Cup Carruthers.

Seven-year-old Flintham, winner of four of his 13 races, is the last of the line.

Plaid Maid died giving birth to him. According to Mark, he is potentially the most talented but also the most unruly.

His wife added: ‘He has a bit of attitude and he kicks like a mule. He was an orphan so he took a lot of time to mature.

‘He was brought up by a gypsy cob mare. So maybe he does have a slightly different attitude to the others in the family.’

With Coneygree’s jockey Nico De Boinville unavailable, conditional jockey Charlie Deutsch takes the mount.

Sara feels the ground conditions as much as the opposition could prove Flintham’ s biggest obstacle.

She said: ‘He was very impressive at Warwick and in those conditions we would really fancy him. We don’t know he can’t do it on the quicker ground because the only time he has run on it was at Aintree and he was not quite right.

‘But the whole family are helped by anything which makes it hard work. He is very tough if the ground does not stop him.’

The 12 months that have followed Coneygree’s Gold Cup win  have not worked out as the Bradstocks would have wished.

As well as their star horse’s leg injury sustained when easily winning his only race of the season at Sandown in November, their season has only delivered three winners from 14 runners. But Sara sees light at the end of the tunnel.

‘It has been a nightmare of a year because the other horses have all had a virus. There has been nothing to cheer us.

‘But we have to keep looking on the bright side because Coneygree will be back,’ she said. ‘He has had longer off before with injury and returned.

‘He is back trotting. He seems really good all the vets are delighted with his progress. He’s had scan and everything looks right for him to be back to perfect next season.

‘We will build him back up to where he is cantering and then he will not have long off for the Summer – maybe a three weeks or a month.

‘We want to be ready to go as soon as there is safe ground. We might even run him in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby in October.

‘His long back legs are the reason for his ability and success as well as his the reason for his fragility.’

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