Silviniaco Conti, winner of both his races this season including Wetherby’s Charlie Hall Chase, can further showcase his Cheltenham Gold Cup chances by completing a hat-trick at Newbury this afternoon.
One of several horses travelling to the Berkshire course with bright claims from Paul Nicholls’ west country yard, Silviniaco Conti contests the Betfair Denman Chase, named after his former powerhouse stablemate.
Silviniaco Conti, one of last season’s leading novices, has looked an even better horse this winter.
His Wetherby success on his reappearance was a rock-solid performance, as was his follow up win in the Betfair Chase at Haydock when he beat Long Run, a previous Gold Cup winner, with The Giant Bolster, runner-up in last season’s Gold Cup, comfortably held in third.
Nicholls has purposely kept his powder dry with Silviniaco Conti since November and it has always been his plan to give the gelding one more run before the Gold Cup.
Nicholls has several other glowing chances on the Newbury card.
He has a fine opportunity in the Betfair Handicap Hurdle with Rangitoto, who seems to prefer the smaller obstacles to fences.
Unioniste looks sure to take plenty of beating in the Betfair Novices’ Chase after winning three of his four starts this season.
In the concluding Betfair Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race, Nicholls saddles Vago Collonges. It is difficult to get a proper handle on this four-year-old as he has yet to race in Britain, but he has won both his races in France and looks a smart prospect. He is awarded a tentative vote, receiving weight from older rivals.
More and more it seems as though Britain’s two or three major stables are dominating Saturdays on the jumping scene and Nicky Henderson, Nicholls’ prime rival in the trainers’ championship, can also make his presence felt at Newbury, which is his local course.
Nicholls runs Chatterbox in the opening Visit Betfair.com/Racing Offers Novices’ Chase and this unbeaten dual-winner will be hard to beat if his victory over stablemate My Tent Or Yours, on this course six weeks ago, is a reliable guide to his merits.
My Tent Or Yours turns out in the most valuable race on the card, the £152,500 Betfair Handicap Hurdle is one of six runners in the line up for Henderson.
He looks very smart, notwithstanding his defeat by Chatterbox, and looks up to winning a red-hot handicap such as this. Obviously there are dangers in abundance, but Tony McCoy’s mount has scope for further improvement and looks an exciting proposition.
At Southwell tomorrow, Thirsk apprentice Shirley Teasdale can land the nap aboard Layla’s Boy (1.50), who returns to the course where he has scored in the past after some decent efforts in stronger company at Wolverhampton.
Also worth watching are Tim Easterby’s Wolverhampton winner Hazard Warning (2.20) and the hat-trick seeking Darkest Night (2.50).
1.15 Chatterbox, 1.50 Rangitoto, 2.25 Silviniaco Conti, 3.00 Wishfull Thinking, 3.35 My Tent Or Yours, 4.10 Unioniste (NAP), 4.40 Vago Collonges.
Today’s other meetings: Lingfield, Uttoxeter, Warwick (inspection 10am) and Wolverhampton.
1.50 Layla’s Boy (NAP), 2.20 Hazard Warning, 2.50 Darkest Night, 3.20 Our Ivor, 3.50 Roedean, 4.20 Kabbaas, 4.50 Frontier Fighter.
Tomorrow’s other meeting: Exeter.