Al Ferof: a general 4-1 shot to give Paul Nicholls an eighth King GeorgePICTURE: Getty Images
Ferof and Conti primed for King George cracker
PAUL NICHOLLS' hopes of landing an eighth win in the William Hill King George VI Chase appear to be getting stronger by the day as the December 26 showdown fast approaches.
Under the guidance of Nicholls, Kauto Star made the Christmas cracker his own with five wins between 2006-11, adding to the trainer's earlier success in the race with dual winner See More Business, who landed the race in 1997 and 1999.
"They both worked well this morning and are well on schedule for the race," said Nicholls on Saturday.
He added: "Silviniaco Conti will be thrilled with all the rain, while Al Ferof will handle the trip and ran well in the Paddy Power Gold Cup last year with a big weight.
"If the ground was good I might have a slight worry about Silviniaco but as it has got more testing, it has brought him into play.
"I can't really split them and it's a hell of a race with them and the likes of Cue Card and Dynaste in there."
With Colin Tizzard's yard under a cloud, Cue Card was pushed out to 3-1 (from 11-4) by Paddy Power on Saturday, the same price a lot of firms go about Dynaste at the head of the market.
The sponsors, who make Cue Card their 11-4 favourite and Dynaste second best at 10-3, offer 4-1 Al Ferof and 6-1 Silviniaco Conti.
Sire De Grugy now looks likely to take on unbeaten chaser Sprinter Sacre in Friday's Grade 2 Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton, after both horses appeared among a field of 13 for the race on Saturday.
Gary Moore, trainer of Sire De Grugy, said: "He galloped good this morning and I am happy with his work. If it keeps raining, and as long as it is soft or heavy, he will definitely run."
The going at Kempton remained good to soft on Saturday but is likely to ease further before Thursday according to clerk of the course Barney Clifford.
He said: "We had 3mm overnight. There is more rain forecast but we didn't get the quantities predicted. The forecast ahead is blustery, mild and spells of rain. I think there is up to 30mm of rain still to come."