March 10 2014 Latest news:
By Simon Jackson, London24’s horse racing correspondent
Thursday, February 21, 2013
Horse Talk: Top horse-racing tips and the latest news
Paul Nicholls has rebuffed claims that Cheltenham Gold Cup hope Silviniaco Conti cannot win this year’s showpiece because of a lack of winning form at the Gloucester track.
The seven-year-old - best priced at 5-1 (Paddy Power) behind Bobs Worth (3-1) and Sir Des Champs (7-2) – has been in superb form since reappearing this season with an 11 length victory in the Grade 2 bet365 Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby in early November.
The French-bred gelding followed up with a win in the Grade 1 Betfair Chase and will go to Cheltenham unbeaten in three starts this campaign after bagging the Grade 2 Betfair Denman Chase at Newbury on February 9.
“He has done incredibly well this season,” Nicholls said. “This year he won the Charlie Hall, the Betfair Chase, from Long Run, and then the other day he had his prep race at Newbury which he won nicely.
“We had left plenty to work on and the ground was testing - I was nervous that he was going to get a bit tired but he stayed on strongly. He jumps well and I keep reading that he cannot win at Cheltenham because he has not won at Cheltenham.
“We have not avoided Cheltenham with him. He ran in The International [when finishing third at Cheltenham] over hurdles and ran incredibly well for a three-mile horse against a lot of two-milers.
“He missed the RSA last year and was never going to run in the Argento. He has been around loads of different tracks on different ground. I have always thought he wanted good ground but he has coped well with soft ground this season.
“You can ride him any way you like. We did not plan to make the running in the Betfair Chase at Haydock but Long Run did not want to go on. Ruby [Walsh] decided at the start to bowl along in front. He would be suited by a real fast end-to-end gallop where he can sit in third or fourth and use his jumping and hopefully stay on strongly.
“He has progressed nicely, done everything right and come out of Newbury well. My view is that the three novices from last season - Bob’s Worth, Silviniaco Conti and Sir Des Champs might be the three. Long Run obviously you can never rule out because he has been such a good horse.
“Any Gold Cup is hard to win, but we think we are going there with a nice chance. He is workmanlike and does the job right - we have a chance of winning.”