Watch Silviniaco Conti turn his hoof to cross-country schooling

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  • National Hunt hero Silviniaco Conti is thriving in his post-racing career.

    The multiple Grade One-winning steeplechaser, formerly trained by Paul Nicholls, has been learning the ropes across country and “loves” team chasing.

    Charlotte Alexander has been training with Brian Hutton at Talland and Italian eventer Daniele Bizzarro.

    Charlotte told H&H she is hoping for a good run at the Cotswold Team Chase on Sunday (29 October) to end the season.

    “He will then go hunting and I am hoping to take him to the Blackmore Vale meet at Ditcheat so he can see all his old friends,” she added.

    Conti retired from racing in April and enjoyed a holiday out in the field at Charlotte’s yard before starting his retraining.

    He has progressed up from novice to open team chases this season and has already been in the ribbons several times.

    “Silviniaco Conti has come up through the ranks much more quickly than I expected,” said Charlotte.

    “He is still green, but loves attacking the hedges and has amazing scope — he is incredibly athletic and so quick to turn.”

    She added he is not strong and will be “top-class” once he has more experience.

    Noel Fehily partners Silviniaco Conti to the combination’s second King George VI victory at Kempton in 2014

    Daniele shared a video (top) of Conti cross-country schooling with Charlotte at Lyneham Heath.

    “He looked so confident,” Daniele told H&H.

    “The good thing with Conti is he is naturally athletic.”

    He added Conti is not stiff through his back, as can be the case with some former racers.

    “It is very different jumping a single fence at speed to combinations — they have to use their body in a very different way and that is what a lot of ex-racehorses find difficult,” said Daniele.

    “[Conti] finds it very easy. For a horse that has been so successful, as he has been, running a lot and doing very well, it is great to see how easily he was jumping these combinations across country.”

    Daniele added the first thing he does with ex-racehorses is to slow everything down.

    “It is like when you learn to drive a car — you don’t learn to drive at 300mph, when you are confident you can pick up the speed,” said Daniele.

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    Brian told H&H he gets a “great thrill” from seeing former racehorses enjoying their new careers.

    “[Conti] is quite an intelligent horse — he has adapted very quickly and he is fairly naturally athletic,” he said.

    Brian has worked with Charlotte and Conti on their flatwork, progressing on to grids and cross-country schooling over the past few months.

    He added the horse’s progression from novice to open tracks has been “fairly meteoric”.

    “Considering the short time frame we have worked on him, he is really encouraging in the progress he has made,” he said.

    “Compared to Denman, who was very much a full-on character and used to rather beat his opposition into submission, Conti is a lot more careful.

    “He is a little bit younger and has good co-ordination, which helps him to adapt to his new role.”

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