2020 Silviniaco Conti Chase tips – Nicholls’ 9/4 chance can get back on winning trail in Kempton feature
Brian Healy takes a runner-by-runner look at Saturday's big race field for the Grade Two feature at Kempton.
There is Grade Two action on Saturday’s racecard at Kempton with the Unibet Silviniaco Conti Chase going to post at 2.05pm as the fourth race on a seven-race card at the Sunbury venue.
Named after dual-King George VI Chase winner Silviniaco Conti, who was trained by Paul Nicholls, this latest renewal will be only the fifth time the race has been run and the first as a Grade Two prize having been a Listed race in previous years.
Five runners go to post for the latest renewal which has seen Nicky Henderson’s Altior taken out of the market; but the Seven Barrows still has last year’s winner Top Notch to go to bat with as he bids to land the £34,000-plus first prize for a second successive year and a fourth time in five years having also won the race with Triolo D’alene and Vaniteux in previous years.
With Altior now out of the picture for the race, Brian Healy takes a runner-by-runner look at the five remaining contenders going to post for Saturday’s Grade Two feature race at Kempton which will be shown live as part of ITV Racing’s coverage of the meeting.
Top Notch (8/11, Unibet) lived up to his name twelve months ago, beating Black Corton by five lengths, and Nicky Henderson’s charge ought to offer up stern resistance as he bids to successfully defend his title.
That win came on the back of finishing third behind Paisley Park in the Long Walk Hurdle on his reappearance, but he subsequently failed to land a blow back over hurdles behind the same rival in the Stayers’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, and he failed to fire and was pulled up in soft ground at Aintree on his final outing.
The Poliglote gelding arrives at Kempton on Saturday having won both starts this term, scoring over hurdles at Aintree on his return with a gutsy defeat of Roksana before claiming the top prize in the Peterborough Chasee when last seen.
He wore a tongue-tie for the first time on that occasion, winning a shade comfortably from 100/1 chance Kauto Riko in what arguably wasn’t a great renewal of that Grade Two contest. Nevertheless, he should prove a tough nut to crack again as he seeks back-to-back wins in the race.
Kauto Riko (6/1, Coral) won’t be 100/1 this time around as Tom George’s charge bids to reverse Huntingdon form with Nicky Henderson’s runner. But the Ballingarry gelding isn’t certain to be in the same mood, and that last run was a significant career best having previously been beaten in handicaps which includes at Cheltenham behind Siruh Du Lac in the Brown Advisory Plate last March.
He’s no slouch by any stretch of the imagination, and he was returning from almost nine months off the track at Huntingdon to finish within a length of Top Notch; but there is a strong suspicion he was flattered by his proximity and a couple of those who finished behind him didn’t run up to their best form so his finishing position has to be treated with some caution.
He can give a good account of himself nonetheless, but he’ll need to find another big jolt of improvement if he’s to come out on top here.
FRODON (9/4, Unibet) could well get back on the winning trail and give Paul Nicholls a first winner in the race named after one of his former stable stars, and the Nickname gelding has lost precious little in finishing third on both his starts this campaign.
The tough and genuine sort enjoyed a huge season last term, winning four of his five starts which included the Grade Two Cotswold Chase and the Grade One Ryanair Chase over this trip where he battled back gamely to overhaul Aso on the run to the line.
The Ditcheat star also has a course and distance win to his name, taking the 2017 Pendil Novices’ Chase, and his runs this term have shown him to be as good as ever. He finished third on his reappearance in the Old Roan Chase at Aintree, although he possibly just needed that sharpener and the race itself wouldn’t have played to his strengths given the contest was settled by a six furlong sprint after the last fence given that several of the fences were omitted.
He then contested the Betfair Chase at Haydock where he wasn’t disgraced behind Lostintranslation and Bristol De Mai although he trailed home a distant third. He ought to be suited though by this slightly easier contest and dropping back in distance, and three of last season’s wins – including his Ryanair Chase victory – came at this trip.
Tough and versatile, he’s sure to make Top Notch work hard for his title defence and he could get back on the scoresheet under regular partner Bryony Frost.
Born Survivor (12/1, Bet365) looked a potentially smart sort last term, progressing well to win two of his three starts – both at Listed level – as well as finishing fourth to Aso at Cheltenhan last New Years’ Day.
Dan Skelton’s charge had wind surgery in the off-season, but he’s struggled in both his outings to date at Wetherby and Huntingdon, latterly finishing around seven lengths’ fourth to Top Notch in the Peterborough Chase.
Strictly on that run he has a bit to find with Nicky Henderson’s charge and also Frodon, and while he could give a good account of himself, he probably needs the principal pair both to falter if he’s to collect this prize.
Completing the quintet for this Grade Two prize, Keeper Hill (16/1, William Hill) has to bounce back from a poor effort at Cheltenham behind Warthog in the recent Caspian Caviar Gold Cup, and Warren Greatrex’s charge will need to find significant improvement if he’s to feature here.
The Westerner gelding has proven himself to be a very smart hurdler, winning last term at Warwick before rounding off the campaign with a fine third behind Aux Ptits Soins in the Grade Three Gaskells Hurdle.
He had won two of his three starts over fences during his first stint as a chaser during the 2017/18 season, but he appeared to lose confidence following a fall at Musselburgh and he failed to complete in further starts at Cheltenham in that season’s National Hunt Chase when falling, and then pulled up at Ayr on his final start.
He made some hay back over timber last term, and he jumped well to make a winning return to chasing at Haydock in November where he beat subsequent Dipper Novices’ Chase winner Midnight Shadow. However, jumping frailties resurfaced latest although the soft ground was offered as an excuse and he could do better yet as a chaser.
While he’ll be suited by the better ground this time around, he however looks to face a very stiff task despite receiving weight all round and he’ll need the principals to come up short if he’s to have a shot at taking this prize.
The defection of Altior takes a little shine off the contest which could now develop into a match between defending champion Top Notch and FRODON (9/4, Unibet), with preference for Paul Nicholls’ charge to come out on top and get back on the winning trail.
The Nickname gelding won four of his five starts last term, three of which came at this trip including Grade One success in the Ryanair Chase, and he has run well on both starts this term where he wasn’t suited by the way the race developed at Aintree on his reappearance before taking a crack at Lostintranslation in the Betfair Chase.
He won over course and distance as a novice, taking the Pendil Novices’ Chase and having proven versatile with regards to the ground the bold jumping trail-blazer could prove a tough nut to pass.
He is the highest rated in the field with 7lbs and more in hand over his field, and the Grade One winner can bully this field into submission from the front to make a return to the winners’ enclosure and take a valuable prize for connections.