Friday 3 January 2014

Silviniaco moves a step closer to Gold Cup glory

The Paul Nicholls-trained Silviniaco Conti put up an impressive performance to get the better of last month’s Betfair Chase winner Cue Card in a tremendous renewal of the Grade 1 King George VI Chase at Kempton Park on Boxing Day and now looks a genuine contender for top honours in March in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Third on his seasonal return at Haydock behind the Colin Tizzard-trained Cue Card, the French bred seven-year-old had clearly come on a good deal for his first run of the term and he was the only horse able to stay with Cue Card as last term’s Ryanair Chase hero set a searching gallop in testing ground at the Sunbury track.

By the final turn, only Silviniaco Conti remained as a danger to Cue Card, former champion Long Run having failed to respond to first-time blinkers while Dynaste failed to make the grade.

Al Ferof plugged on to take third, but up front it was Silviniaco Conti under a fine ride from Noel Fehily who leaped into the lead at the penultimate fence and eventually came away to score by three-and-a-half-lengths as the gallant Cue Card finally ran out of gas.

Punters reacted quickly to the impressive victory with Silviniaco Conti being slashed to a top price of 4.9 favourite on Betfair having traded at double figures prior to his Kempton victory. Bobs Worth, the defending champion is now a 5.9 shot in the latest odds, while Ireland’s Sir Des Champs, runner-up to Bobs Worth in the blue riband contest last season, now offered at 7.4.

Cue Card (9.8) is expected by many to head for a repeat bid for the Ryanair Chase over a shorter trip and is a clear 4.7 ante-post favourite on Betfair to land the two-mile-five –furlong event once again.