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Wednesday, 23 January, 2019

Fehily: King George hero Silviniaco Conti and I had some great days together

Silviniaco Conti (centre): won more than £1 million in prize-money
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Noel Fehily has added his own tribute to dual King George VI Chase winner Silviniaco Conti, whose death following a team chasing accident was revealed by Paul Nicholls on Monday evening.

Fehily partnered Silviniaco Conti to eight wins, six of them at the highest level, and enjoyed an unbroken run of 19 rides on him through his last four seasons.

Besides the two special days at Kempton, the pair enjoyed two fine wins in the Bowl at Aintree, another in the Betfair Chase, and a final victory in the Ascot Chase two years ago.

He said on Tuesday: "It was terribly sad to hear Silviniaco Conti is no longer with us. He was the first really good horse I got to ride regularly and was a very, very good horse for me. We had some great days."

Looking back to their start together, Fehily said: "The first time I rode Silviniaco was in the Persian War at Chepstow and he beat Captain Chris. From day one he was just a very good horse. He never showed an awful lot at home but would always go and do it at the track."

Fehily believes that, besides his natural class, a key facet of Silviniaco Conti's armoury was his ability to maintain a relentless gallop from start to finish which few others could live with.

He said: "I don't think I've ever ridden a more clear-winded horse. He could gallop in top gear for a long, long way. You could put him in top gear and he'd just keep galloping. Not many can do that.

"Later on he quite often made the running, and he did so in his second King George, but he didn't have to. He was very straightforward and you could ride him any way you wanted.

"If there was enough pace on you could drop him in, and if there wasn't you could make the running. He followed Cue Card when he won the Betfair Chase.

"He was a great jumper too. He had so much ability. It was fantastic to be part of his career."

Silviniaco Conti and Noel Fehily return in triumph after landing the 2013 King George VI Chase at Kempton

Silviniaco Conti in numbers

12 age

36 runs

16 wins

7 Grade 1 wins

2 King George VI Chase victories

£1,151,609 prize-money earnings

176 Best Racing Post Rating

The 12-year-old, who had made a successful transition to his new career after retiring at the end of last season, was injured at an event on Sunday.

Nicholls said: "Silviniaco Conti was a great horse for us and he gave his owners Jared Sullivan and Chris Giles an amazing amount of fun, winning seven Grade 1s, including successive King Georges, and over £1.15 million in prize-money.

"He had a few problems and wasn't always the easiest to train, but when he was right he was pure class. He came along at the right time for us too, following the retirements of Kauto Star, Denman, Master Minded and Big Buck's. We could do with another like him now."

He added: "He had a great home after he left us too, as he followed Denman to Charlotte Alexander's and was doing brilliantly there. I'm not sure what happened, but he was only 12 and wasn't a horse who wanted to be doing nothing. It's sad, but he went out doing what he enjoyed best, being active and enjoying himself."

You may be also interested in these . . .

Seven-time Grade 1 winner Silviniaco Conti has run his last race

Silviniaco Conti a horse I have always admired

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Cue Card v Silviniaco Conti

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He was the first really good horse I got to ride regularly and he was a very, very good horse for me. We had some great days together
E.W. Terms
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