William Hill King George VI Chase
Grade 1, Kempton Park
£200,000 added,
4yo plus,
3m, Class 1  
Friday 26th December 2014

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Silviniaco Conti "in the form of his life"

After poor showings in the Betfair Chase, Cue Card and Dynaste have both drifted in the market

Jonjo O'Neill has confirmed that Paddy Power Gold Cup winner Johns Spirit will head to Kempton

Silviniaco Conti
© Grossick Racing Photography
Silviniaco Conti

Paul Nicholls has reported Silviniaco Conti to be "in the form of his life" ahead of the William Hill King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day.

The eight-year-old defending champion warmed up for the Christmas showpiece when reclaiming the Betfair Chase at Haydock Park last month and Nicholls believes his runner is in better shape than 12 months ago.

The son of Dom Alco beat Cue Card by three-and-a-half lengths in the same race last season and Nicholls is hoping the yard gets the same favourable wet conditions.

Nicholls said: "He is in the form of his life. He will be a bit better this year. We're looking forward to the big day.

"He's a typical Dom Alco, they are not morning glories. He shows you nothing at home - he never did before we first ran him. You know what you have got with him on the track. What we would want is plenty of rain. Kempton on good ground is not ideal for him."

The trainer indicated he would have reservations about entering Silviniaco Conti if there is no give in the ground.

He told reporters: "He is in the Lexus still and he might go there yet.

If you had a dry three weeks, and the ground was good or even faster at Kempton, you would be seriously concerned about it, but if it keeps on raining, if it is soft, it is ideal for him.

"Last year's race was on soft ground and it was test of stamina, which suited him."

Champagne Fever
© Caroline Norris
Champagne Fever

Willie Mullins has a trio of contenders in Champagne Fever, Ballycasey and Boston Bob.

Champagne Fever won the Clonmel Oil Chase really well from Alderwood on November 13 and subsequently became antepost favourite for the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March.

Paul Nicholls has opened up the possibility Al Ferof could run on Boxing Day after being impressed with his performance at Ascot in November.

Al Ferof
© Racehorse Photos
Al Ferof

Al Ferof's form in winning the Amlin 1965 Chase took another boost when Somersby finished a gallant second in the Tingle Creek at Sandown and Nicholls admits the Ascot run came as a pleasant surprise.

"That was obviously a career-best at Ascot and that form has worked out really well. For whatever reason he seems to be better than he was last year," the trainer said.

Al Ferof finished a well beaten third in the King George last year and Nicholls may yet be forced to choose between his talented chasers for this year's renewal.

"The biggest issue with him [Al Ferof] is will he get three miles if it is really soft ground?" Nicholls went on.

"It is difficult isn't it, because it was two-mile-three at Ascot."

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Joe Tizzard feels there is more improvement to come from Cue Card when the horse bids to erase the memory of last year's agonising defeat on Boxing Day.

Cue Card
© Racehorse Photos
Cue Card

Cue Card, trained by Tizzard's father Colin, faded quite dramatically just before the final fence and was collared by Silviniaco Conti.

He only returned to action last month and has not fired on all cylinders in finishing fourth in both the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter and Haydock's Betfair Chase, but Tizzard junior, who is now his father's assistant after retiring from the saddle, has not lost faith in their stable star.

"He's fine at home. He had a good blow after the race at Haydock. Nothing's come out of it. Physically he's absolutely A1," Joe Tizzard told At The Races.

"I think he could possibly be a better horse another day because although he had a race at Exeter, he did blow hard after Haydock and there's a chance he might improve a little bit more.

"He's in good nick and it's all guns blazing for the King George."

Eduard is set to miss the race and wait for the Betfair Ascot Chase in February.

Trainer Nicky Richards feels the Boxing Day feature at Kempton is likely to come too soon for Eduard after he finished second in the Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon on December 7.

Nicky Henderson finally admitted defeat in attempting to get Simonsig to Kempton on Boxing Day.

The Seven Barrows handler said on Saturday asking Simonsig to return in such a white-hot atmosphere might not be best for the horse in the long run, and that he would prefer to give him a racecourse gallop over the Festive period.

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William Hill King George VI Chase (Grade 1)
£200,000 added, 4yo plus, 3m, Class 1
29 remaining entries
Going: N/A

Form Horse Age Weight Trainer
1/1325-1 Al Ferof (FR) 9 11-10 P F Nicholls
2120-3P Annacotty (IRE) 6 11-10 M Keighley
114F2-1 Ballycasey (IRE) 7 11-10 W P Mullins
1661-13 Boston Bob (IRE) 9 11-10 W P Mullins
1R12P-P Bury Parade (IRE) 8 11-10 P F Nicholls
264/311- Captain Chris (IRE) 10 11-10 P J Hobbs
3/132-61 Champagne Fever (IRE) 7 11-10 W P Mullins
32/1110- Corrin Wood (IRE) 7 11-10 D McCain Jnr
2/312-44 Cue Card 8 11-10 C L Tizzard
2F24-11 Don Cossack (GER) 7 11-10 G Elliott
235-F3U Double Ross (IRE) 8 11-10 N A Twiston-Davies
1/2512-3 Dynaste (FR) 8 11-10 D Pipe
4/2111-2 Eduard (IRE) 6 11-10 N G Richards
334-415 Fox Appeal (IRE) 7 11-10 Miss E C Lavelle
U1111-3 Holywell (IRE) 7 11-10 Jonjo O'Neill
1540-12 Johns Spirit (IRE) 7 11-10 Jonjo O'Neill
P051-12 Menorah (IRE) 9 11-10 P J Hobbs
1211-23 Present View 6 11-10 Jamie Snowden
41-2121 Road To Riches (IRE) 7 11-10 N Meade
3141-51 Silviniaco Conti (FR) 8 11-10 P F Nicholls
111111/ Simonsig 8 11-10 N J Henderson
3/U112-5 Smad Place (FR) 7 11-10 A King
211-32P Taquin Du Seuil (FR) 7 11-10 Jonjo O'Neill
U513-05 The Giant Bolster 9 11-10 D G Bridgwater
P1/332-1 Theatre Guide (IRE) 7 11-10 C L Tizzard
1/11210- Vukovar (FR) 5 11-10 H Fry
2150-13 Wishfull Thinking 11 11-10 P J Hobbs
1253-12 Wonderful Charm (FR) 6 11-10 P F Nicholls
3P121-5 Ma Filleule (FR) 6 11-3 N J Henderson

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