Destination Newbury for Nicholls’s Silviniaco Conti

WETHERBY winner Silviniaco Conti will continue his Gold Cup build-up at Newbury on Saturday in a race that celebrates his illustrious former stablemate Denman.

It comes after Paul Nicholls decided that the Betfair Denman Chase will be an ideal prep race for his rising star who came to prominence when winning the Charlie Hall Chase last November.

The champion trainer had suggested the seven-year-old could head straight for the Cheltenham Gold Cup next month after franking the Charlie Hall form with victory in the Grade One Betfair Chase at Haydock.

Possible opponents on Saturday include The Giant Bolster, last season’s Gold Cup runner-up, and Peterborough Chase winner Menorah from the yard of Philip Hobbs, though King George VI winner Long Run misses the contest as he recovers from his stamina-sapping success at Kempton. Meanwhile, Nicholls’s Westcountry rival David Pipe believes Goulanes could be an ideal candidate for the John Oaksey National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham following his Wetherby win.

The seven-year-old was pitched into Grade Two company for his chasing bow, holding Super Duty by a head in a thrilling finish to the three mile, one furlong test.

While he is entered in the RSA Chase and the Jewson Novices’ Chase, Pipe thinks the four-mile amateur heat may be his best option.

He said: “Tom Scudamore needed every yard of the trip at Wetherby to get Goulanes home. This was a very good effort.

“He is as tough and game as they come and is another who could well be suited by the four-miler at the Festival.”

The RSA Chase ante-post market is currently headed by the brilliant grey Dynaste who is stablemate to Goulanes.

After snow forced Sedgefield’s card yesterday to be abandoned, today’s Carlisle meeting must pass an early morning inspection.

Rock Critic was an impressive hurdles winner at Fairyhouse yesterday as last year’s John Smith’s Grand National third Seabass made a fine return to action taking second place.

Ted Walsh’s Seabass ran a tremendous race on his first appearance since his superb Aintree performance last Spring under the jockey’s daughter Katie.

The 10-year-old was predictably outpaced over this two-mile trip, but stayed on strongly in the straight to grab the 
runner-up spot from a rather disappointing Make Your Mark.

As the race was over hurdles, the performance should not affect the steeplechase mark of Seabass ahead of the National weights being published next Tuesday.