By Simon Jackson.
Silviniaco Conti is reported to be in ‘good shape’ by trainer Paul Nicholls ahead of his bid to secure a third victory in the £200,000 Betfair Chase at Haydock Park on Saturday.
The Grade 1 contest has attracted a boutique field of five runners that includes Cue Card, who won the 2013 Betfair Chase and made a winning comeback in the bet365 Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby last month.
Dynaste finished second to Cue Card at Wetherby and is set to re-oppose, along his with his stablemate Ballynagour. The Jonjo O’Neill-trained Holywell completes the line-up.
Silviniaco Conti won the Betfair Chase in 2012 and 2014 and was third in 2013. He pleased connections when finishing second to Brother Tedd over hurdles on his comeback at Kempton on November 2 and Nicholls believes the conditions at Haydock – where the ground is currently described as soft – are ideal.
“We were not far enough forward with him to run in the Charlie Hall at Wetherby [due to sarcoids (painless skin tumours) on his chest] so we gave him a spin over hurdles at Kempton Park,” Nicholls said at a Betfair Chase media visit at his stables in Somerset on Monday.
“It was the best thing we did, as he has improved enormously for that run. He has not missed a beat since he ran at Kempton.
“His stamina is going to be very important this weekend – a flat track and soft ground are absolutely made for him. He is in really good shape and his run has done him the world of good. He is not a morning glory worker at home so you would never know if he was going particularly well.
“We get loads of graft into him to get him fit – Noel (Fehily) got off at Kempton and said he felt as well as ever, which is all I wanted to hear. He is in good shape. Really testing ground is probably ideal for him as all he does is gallop and jump.”
Betfair Chase – Betfair prices: 10/11 Silviniaco Conti, 11/4 Cue Card; 7/1 Dynaste; 8/1 Ballynagour; 20/1 Holywell
EW 1/4 – 1, 2
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