As tipped up to members of my selections service, the Paul Nicholls trained 6 year old with the name few can pronounce won the Betfair Chase.
Silviniaco Conti, under a great ride from jockey Ruby Walsh, beat Long Run to ensure that the stable that won this race so often with Kauto Star, added a new name to the role of honour at Haydock.
Kauto Star did have a cameo role to play on the day, making a guest appearance at the unveiling of a statue in his honour. But, now retired, he was not able to take his chance against his stablemate or his old adversary, Long Run.
In my opinion, Kauto Star would have wiped the floor with both of them. He was so up for racing yesterday. But we’ll never know.
Trainer Paul Nicholls insisted to me in the morning that retirement was “definitely the right decision” and so all his hopes were pinned on Silviniaco Conti. Nicholls told me pre-race “Like Al Ferof the other week, he looks in the best condition ever. If Long Run turns up at his best, then we have a mountain to climb. But if he is off his game, then our one has a chance even though he is still young and still learning.”
Reading the body language, and working out when trainers are speaking the truth, is all part of life as a tipster and punter. Know who tells the truth and speaks as he or her finds. And know is being economical with the facts.
Paul Nicholls is a very open trainer. Anyone who saw him on ‘The Morning Line’ on Saturday morning and did not bet on Silviniaco Conti wasn’t listening properly. He has said it about three of his runners already this season: “I have never seen them look better.” All three horses went on to win their next race.
I took the hint and doubled the stake I had put on his horse the night before. And was quick to do so. I knew the price of 9-4 would vanish. It did. Siviniaco Conti won the race at an SP price of just 7-4.
The night before Nicholls spoke glowingly about Silviniaco Conti and his current condition, I told members of my selections service this: “Although yet to prove it, I think Silviniaco Conti is a better horse than Long Run. One that will go on to bigger and better things. And I am taking the chance that the Betfair Chase will be that day.”
And so it proved.
Channel 4 Racing were covering the meeting and their Jim McGrath told me afterwards: “Everything fell into place for the winner. He jumped really well, conditions were ideal, Ruby Walsh was as superb as ever and Long Run wasn’t at the top of his game. That does not mean there will be the same outcome in the Cheltenham Gold Cup next March. Long Run could bounce back.”
Nicholls told me after the race at Haydock: “That is it for Silviniaco Conti now until Cheltenham.
I don’t think I will race him again until then. He doesn’t like the winter weather and it would do him no good to be racing in mud. I’ll likely put him away for winter and he’ll come back fresh in March.”
I have become ever increasingly impressed by this horse. Yet another star turn in the making from the Nicholls stable that he himself calls “team Ditcheat.” I agree with the trainer that Silviniaco Conti did not receive the accolades he deserved for winning the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby.
Bookies have predictably overreacted and made Silviniaco Conti the 7-1 second favourite to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup and they have pushed Long Run out to 10-1. While I am not a fan of Long Run, Jim McGrath is right. That one could bounce back to win the Gold Cup again, Though my money would not be on it to win, odds of 10-1 make it an each way ante post bet.
For what it is worth this far ahead of the Gold Cup, I will have eyes for the current favourite Sir Des Champs. He is the threat to the Nicholls runners Silviniaco Conti and (at 20-1 currently), Al Ferof. But there are a few in there with a chance at a big price right now. Captain Chris, a good looking winner at Ascot on Saturday, is 33-1 for the Gold Cup.
But that is for the future.
Yesterday was all about two stars from Somerset. The hero of past exploits on a racecourse, Kauto Star. And the hero of the day, the young pretender, Silviniaco Conti.
The baton has been handed over without leaving Manor Farm stables.