Champion Conti has ‘big chance’ of joining the King George legends

Silviniaco Conti ridden by Noel Fehily wins the William Hill King George VI Steeple Chase  at Kempton last year. Picture: Steve Parsons/PA.

Silviniaco Conti ridden by Noel Fehily wins the William Hill King George VI Steeple Chase at Kempton last year. Picture: Steve Parsons/PA.

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noel fehily is confident that Silviniaco Conti can join the William Hill King George VI Chase greats today and atone for his defeat at Wetherby two months ago.

The defending champion will become the 10th horse in racing history to win back-to-back renewals of jump racing’s mid-season highlight if he is first past the post at Kempton today.

The list is an illustrious one – Pendil, Captain Christy, Silver Buck, Wayward Lad, One Man, Desert Orchid, The Fellow, Kicking King and Kauto Star.

As Fehily says, Silviniaco Conti is the horse to beat today after making amends for his fifth place finish behind Menorah in Wetherby’s bet365 Charlie Hall Chase by winning Haydock’s Grade One Betfair Chase.

“It was a very good performance in the Betfair and if he reproduces something like that, hopefully he goes there with a big chance,” said Fehily.

“I wasn’t disappointed with his run at Wetherby at all, the ground was a lot quicker than everyone said it was – he felt great and jumped great, he turned in and the two-and-a-half-mile horses just came by him very quickly and he got a bit tired.

“There were plenty of positives to take out of the run and I wasn’t disappointed. It was a bit sharp for him on that ground and he maybe just needed the run. He soon put that behind him and it was probably nearly his career-best performance at Haydock.”

Silviniaco Conti heads a formidable three-pronged assault on the festive feature for champion trainer Paul Nicholls, who has won the King George a record eight times.

While Wonderful Charm is an outsider, Nicholls is bullish about the claims of last year’s third, Al Ferof, who has since undergone treatment for debilitating stomach ulcers.

The mount of stable jockey Sam Twiston-Davies, Nicholls said: “For whatever reason, he seems to be much better in himself this year than he was last year, he had a few problems, ulcers. If it’s not too soft, he could be a different proposition this year. He has got to prove he stays three miles, but at his best he might well do. He’s by Dom Alco, so you’d think he would.”

As for Wetherby’s two-day William Hill Winter Festival, Conor O’Farrell is hopeful that Broadway Buffalo can replicate his Haydock winning form of six days ago and land the feature Rowland Meyrick Chase ahead of a six-strong Yorkshire challenge headed by Sue Smith’s Vintage Star, Malcolm Jefferson’s Cape Tribulation and Rose Of The Moon from the yard of David O’Meara.

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