LONDON–Silviniaco Conti produced a stunning frontrunning performance leading from pillar to post to emulate his stablemate Kauto Star in winning back to back King George VI Chases at Kempton Park on Friday.
Silviniaco Conti �X given a great ride by Irishman Noel Fehily �X gave trainer Paul Nicholls his ninth winner in the Boxing Day showpiece that is only second to the Cheltenham Gold Cup in prestige in steeplechasing. The 15/8 favorite kicked clear after the second last to leave his rivals trailing in his wake with Dynaste running on strongly to finish second at 7/1 while another Nicholls runner Al Ferof was third for the second successive year. Fancied Irish runner Champagne Fever faded slightly after being prominent for a long time to finish fourth with his jockey Ruby Walsh saying he had been very keen. Nicholls, who had had little success on the day prior to the King George, said that he was more impressed with Silviniaco Conti’s performance this year. ��Amazing to have nine winners in the race!�� said Nicholls. ��He was really good today. I have been really impressed with him this year. He’s in a good place this season,�� added Nicholls, who is not certain whether he will have another run before the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March a race he finished fourth in last season beaten by just over a length. Fehilly, normally very undemonstrative, punched the air in delight on crossing the line, said that his mount had proven himself to the doubters. ��He has proved what a very good horse he is,�� said Fehilly. ��He has done it the hard way.�� For Dynaste’s connections trainer David Pipe and jockey Tom Scudamore, who had flown in by helicopter half an hour before after winning a race at Wincanton, there was joy too. ��He’s run his heart out and beaten a lot of good horses, finishing second to the Gold Cup favorite,�� said Pipe.
Earlier Walsh and Champagne Fever’s trainer Willie Mullins had had better fortune when odds-on favorite Faugheen produced a devastating performance to make it eight wins from eight starts in the Christmas Hurdle. The Willie Mullins-trained hurdler is now as short as even money favorite for the Champion Hurdle �X Ladbrokes offer 7/4 �X at the Cheltenham Festival. Silviniaco Conti meanwhile is now 4-1 favorite for the Gold Cup.