SILVINIACO CONTI is bidding for a hat-trick in the William Hill King George VI Chase but Noel Fehily reckons he has become the forgotten horse of the race.
Kauto Star is the only horse since Desert Orchid to win the Boxing Day showpiece more than twice and the chance of fellow Paul Nicholls-trained chaser Silviniaco Conti emulating that feat have been dented by two losses this season, most recently when he was well beaten behind Cue Card in last month’s Betfair Chase at Haydock.
“I don’t think he ran too badly at Haydock and he is still a live contender. In some ways he’s the forgotten horse, with the likes of Vautour, Don Cossack and Cue Card all getting plenty of attention.”But Fehily thinks a return to form is imminent. The rider said about the top-priced 8-1 chance: “I sat on him last week, and he felt good. He hasn’t done a lot wrong. He likes Kempton – it brings out the best in him. He was very impressive in winning the last two King Georges, and he won well at Aintree in the spring.
Tactics could play a significant part in the outcome of the Christmas highlight. The addition of Hennessy hero Smad Place, who blazed from the front to win at Newbury, provides a further injection of pace, with Vautour and Silviniaco Conti also renowned for their front-running.
Fehily added: “It looks like there is going to be plenty of pace, but Silviniaco Conti is a very straightforward horse to ride. He can be ridden anywhere. We’ll have to see on the day.”
Ground ‘likely to get softer’
The ground at Kempton on Wednesday morning remained good to soft, soft in places after less rain than forecast (3mm) fell at the track overnight.
Barney Clifford, clerk of the course, said on Tuesday: “Tomorrow looks like remaining blustery with the odd shower. There is a spell of heavy rain likely on Thursday, which could produce 5-7mm. The way it’s looking the ground is likely to get softer.”
No Road as nine go to post
Silviniaco Conti will face eight rivals in Saturday’s race after Road To Riches was the only withdrawal at the declaration stage.
The full field is: Don Cossack, Vautour, Cue Card, Silviniaco Conti, Smad Place, Al Ferof, Ballynagour, Valseur Lido and Irish Cavalier.