Silviniaco Conti took the King George VI Chase at Kempton today (26 December 2013), giving trainer Paul Nicholls his 8th win in the race.
The 7-year-old gelding, who was sent off at 7-2, won from Betfair Chase winner Cue Card.
Cue Card, trained by Colin Tizzard, jumped confidently and made all the running, tracked by Silviniaco Conti. The leading 2 were ahead of the field nearing the end of the race and Cue Card looked set to win, before weakening after the 2nd last — allowing Silviniaco Conti to pull away. He won by 3½ lengths under Noel Fehily.
Paul Nicholls’ other runner, Al Ferof, ridden by H&H columnist Daryl Jacob, finished 3rd.
Riverside Theatre and Champion Court made mistakes early on, unseating riders Barry Geraghty and Ian Popham at the 5th fence, while Sam Waley-Cohen and Long Run parted company at the last.
It was an 8th King George win for trainer Paul Nicholls, who also took the race twice with See More Business and a record 5 times with Kauto Star.
The latter looked full of beans as he paraded at Kempton with rider Laura Collett.
“I thought Joe [on Cue Card] had got away from me, but this horse is as tough as nails. I’ve never ridden a Gold Cup winner, but I hope he is one. To win a King George is unbelievable,” said Noel Fehily after the race.
Paul added: “I’m delighted. He stays forever this horse.”
Silviniaco Conti is now joint-favourite for the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March, alongside last year’s winner Bobs Worth.
“Better ground and a bit further should suit him,” added Paul.
Joe Tizzard said he was “chuffed to bits” with runner-up Cue Card.
“He got into a lovely rhythm, and fair play to Noel, there are no excuses,” he said.