William Hill King George VI Chase
|Grade 1, Kempton Park 15:10
3m, Class 1
|Friday 26th December 2014
1 Silviniaco Conti 15/8F
2 Dynaste 7/1
3 Al Ferof 7/1
10 ran Distances: 4½l, 5l, ¾l
TIME 6m 3.30s (slow by 5.30s)
Silviniaco Conti wins a second King George, securing trainer Paul Nicholls a ninth win in the Boxing Day race
Paul Nicholls tightened his stranglehold on the William Hill King George VI Chase when 15-8 favourite Silviniaco Conti provided him with a record ninth success in the Boxing Day feature at Kempton Park.
Nicholls and Fehily pulled off a carefully constructed plan to make best use of their charge's assured stamina and improved concentration gained from the application of a pair of cheekpieces.
The eight-year-old was cut into 5-2 favourite (from 6-1) for the Cheltenham Gold Cup by Ladbrokes, while William Hill make the Ditcheat gelding 4-1 market leader (from 7-1), a price shared by MansionBet about a race in which he finished fourth last year.
To rapturous applause, the combination never looked like being reeled in as Dynaste stayed on strongly for second.
Nicholls said: "It's all a bit surreal. Things weren't going well (on the day), but Conti got us out of trouble.
"He jumps and he gallops and we kept it simple. I knew he would gallop and stay and we decided to make it a proper test of stamina. The cheekpieces have helped him, he can be a bit lazy and they have really woken him up."
Nicholls compared Silvianaco Conti to one of his previous King George victors, See More Business.
He went on: "See More Business won the King George twice and went on to win a Gold Cup and I hope this fellow can go on and put the big one on his CV.
"When he jumped the last in front I was astounded he didn't go on and win last season's Gold Cup, but then after he ran at Aintree we found he had gastric ulcers. In fact there were various things we had to iron out and put right last year and the result is that he's come back a stronger and better horse.
"I felt he needed the cheekpieces to help him concentrate and they have made a huge difference. Today he jumped soundly and only got tight to the one down the far side. Otherwise he was foot-perfect. All he needed was one kick in the belly from Noel and he was away.
"Whether he runs again before Cheltenham is very much undecided, but all he does is stay and the Gold Cup is his number one target.
"Longer term I would love to see him come back here and give us the magic 10 King George wins. I can't believe how lucky we've been to do so well in this race and I have to again give credit to my head lad Clifford Baker."
Nicholls added that he would look to chart a course towards the Queen Mother Champion Chase with the Sam Twiston-Davies-ridden Al Ferof.
He said: "I've just had a word with John (Hales, owner) and he is happy for me to point him at the two-miler at Cheltenham. He just ran out of stamina today and we know he possesses all the toe in the world."
The Pond House trainer said: "He'd done plenty of work before the Betfair Chase, so I can't say he was fitter today. It was encouraging to see him finish his race strongly, but we'll have to take him home and see about the Gold Cup. To be honest, I'd rather win the the Ryanair than finish third in the Gold Cup."
William Hill King George VI Chase (Grade 1)
£200,000 added, 4yo plus, 3m, Class 1
Going: Good to Soft
|Horse / Jockey
|Silviniaco Conti (FR) 15/8f
N D Fehily
|P F Nicholls
|Dynaste (FR) 7/1
|Al Ferof (FR) 7/1
|P F Nicholls
|Champagne Fever (IRE) 9/2
|W P Mullins
|Cue Card 11/2
D A Jacob
|C L Tizzard
|Johns Spirit (IRE) 25/1
R P Mclernon
|Wonderful Charm (FR) 33/1
|P F Nicholls
|Menorah (IRE) 8/1
T J O'Brien
|P J Hobbs
|Double Ross (IRE) 50/1
|N A Twiston-Davies
|Wishfull Thinking 20/1
B J Geraghty
|P J Hobbs