By Simon Jackson.
Silviniaco Conti is on target for a third win in the Grade 1 Betfair Chase after finishing second to Brother Tedd over hurdles on his comeback at Kempton on Monday.
The dual William Hill King George VI Chase winner was racing over hurdles for the first time since 2011. It was his first start since landing the Grade 1 Betfred Bowl Chase at Aintree in April.
At Kempton, Silviniaco Conti raced close up for the bulk of the two miles and five furlong contest for Noel Fehily, before taking it up four fences out. He was headed by the winner at the second-last fence and ran on well to finish four lengths adrift of Brother Tedd and a head in front of Low Key.
The effort pleased connections of the nine-year-old, who won the Betfair Chase in 2012 and 2014 and bids to win the £200,000 contest for the third time at Haydock Park on November 21.
“Noel said he felt as good as ever,” trainer Paul Nicholls said. “He had a really good blow. He’s run better than he probably did in his first time out last year.
“We have two weeks now to get him right [for Haydock]. Noel was thrilled with him. It was just what we wanted really. He is bound to improve for that.
“What he wants is a three mile chase. He wants to be jumping and galloping. He jumped all the way to the line and Noel couldn’t pull him up afterwards.”
Fehily added: “He was as good as ever. I loved the way he galloped to the line.”
The solid effort impressed sponsors Betfair, who have shortened Nicholls’ charge to 7-4 (from 2-1) for the three mile contest at Haydock.
Betfair spokesman Barry Orr said: “Last season Silviniaco Conti was beaten in the Charlie Hall on his seasonal bow and connections were disappointed. But today’s run was very positive and he should improve significantly for the outing. Couple that with the fact that potential opposition could fall away means we trimmed him into 7-4”
Meanwhile, Sarah Hobbs, the wife of the winning trainer Philip Hobbs, revealed that Brother Tedd will continue to be campaigned over hurdles for the near future.
“He is coming along the right way,” she said. Richard [Johnson – jockey] came down and schooled him and we were quite confident today.
“He will make a lovely chaser, but Richard said we should stay over hurdles at the moment. We will be looking for more races like this.”
Betfair Betting – Betfair Chase: 7-4 Silviniaco Conti, 4-1 Cue Card, 6-1 Coneygree, 8-1 Ballynagour, Dynaste, 12-1 Holywell, 14-1 Kings Palace, 16-1 Menorah, 201- Al Ferof, 20-1 Ptit Zig, 25-1 Sam Winner
Each Way: 1/5 Odds Places
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