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Silviniaco Conti (Noel Fehily) jumps the alst fence with Dynaste in the Betfair Bowl

Silviniaco Conti: likely to begin his campaign at Wetherby on Saturday

  PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (  

Silviniaco better on
flat tracks says Nicholls

PAUL NICHOLLS revealed the Cheltenham Gold Cup was still very much on the agenda for Silviniaco Conti even though he suspects the eight-year-old prefers to run on a flat track.

Silviniaco Conti, who was fourth in last season's Gold Cup, for which he is 12-1 for March's running, is likely to start his campaign in the bet365 Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby next Saturday.

Speaking after the eight-year-old had a racecourse gallop at Chepstow on Saturday, the trainer said: “We are probably going to go Charlie Hall next weekend then the Betfair Chase, before going to Kempton for the King George.

“I think you need to have a run to win the Betfair. Last year we needed the run. There is no point going into these big races needing a run. I've got it in the back of my mind that he saves his best form for flat tracks.

"After Christmas we'll freshen him up for the Gold Cup. We found out after the Gold Cup last year that he had a few problems and after tests it turned out he was suffering from stomach ulcers.”

Nicholls also galloped classy trio Rocky Creek, Zarkandar and Lac Fontana. He plans to aim Rocky Creek at the Grade 1 Champion Chase at Down Royal next Saturday, a race he has won four times in the last eight years, most notably with Kauto Star in 2008 and 2010.

He said: “We didn't have an easy time with him last year, he had colic after the Hennessy and ringworm before Cheltenham and he wasn't really finishing his races as you would like. Down Royal should be a good starting point for him and I’m hoping he can improve again this year.

“Zarkandar will go to Auteuil next weekend for a three-mile hurdle race that is worth a lot of money. He loves the mud, loves Auteuil and should run well. Lac Fontana isn't quite ready yet.”

Tony McCoy rode World Hurdle winner More Of That in a separate gallop at Chepstow and said afterwards: "He's a big, gross horse and it's a matter of getting him fit. It's not an impossibility he could run at Wetherby on Saturday."

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