Silviniaco Conti: 4-1 joint-favourite (from 8) for the Betfred Gold CupPICTURE: Mark Cranham (racingpost.com/photos)
Silviniaco hands Nicholls eighth King George
Report: Kempton, Thursday
William Hill King George VI Chase (Grade 1) 3m, 4yo+
SILVINIACO CONTI gave trainer Paul Nicholls a record eighth win in the King George when outstaying the front-running Cue Card from the second-last.
The winner is now 4-1 joint-favourite (from 8) with the sponsors for the Betfred Gold Cup, along with last year's winner Bobs Worth.
The front two dominated throughout with Cue Card settling into a lovely rhythm at the head of the field and Silviniaco Conti tracking in second. In the early stages Long Run was also on the premises but in behind there was some indifferent jumping.
First to come unstuck were Riverside Theatre and Champion Court, who made independent mistakes at the fifth, unseating Barry Geraghty and Ian Popham as a result.
Upfront, Cue Card was jumping for fun and his quick, accurate style was putting pressure on his rivals with the likes of Dynaste and Al Ferof struggling to stay on terms.
A bad mistake three-out ended Long Run's chances and at that stage it looked like Cue Card would prevail. Even over the second-last he looked the most likely winner but as he landed at that obstacle his stride shortened and stamina gauge began to flicker.
Noel Fehily and Silviniaco Conti sensed their chance had come and by the time the last approached, it was they who had the advantage. A fine leap sealed victory, with Fehily saluting the crowd as he bagged a first King George.
A tired Long Run unseated San Waley-Cohen at the last, leaving Al Ferof to to give Nicholls first and third.
The winning jockey said: "I was slow over three-out and I thought Joe [Tizzard] had got away from me a bit but he's as tough as nails and been a very good horse to me. I've never ridden a Gold Cup winner but I hope he is [one]. It's unbelievable to win a King George."
Paul Nicholls: eighth winPICTURE: Edward Whitaker
Nicholls, who after Kauto Star's five wins and the two successes of See More Business, was winning an eighth King George, added: "I knew if I had him at his best at Haydock he wouldn't win today. He came on enormously for the run and I knew he'd stay.
"I said to Noel make plenty of use of him because all he does is stay. This was always the target this year. You have to be a true stayer to win this and I'm delighted to win with something different."
Cue Card's trainer Colin Tizzard said: "He just got outstayed in the end but I'm just so chuffed for the horse as he was brilliant again.
"Paul's horse has obviously improved and he beat us today but he has always been a decent horse and he looked like he was going to win the Gold Cup until he fell. The rest were miles back. We thrashed the rest.
"I would think it will be the Gold Cup for us but the Ryanair is tempting. Don't ask me where we're going, though, because I don't know. We'll think about it for a few weeks."
Betfred make Cue Card an 8-1 shot for the Gold Cup.