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Conti may skip Gold Cup preparation run

PAUL NICHOLLS looks set to keep Silviniaco Conti (pictured, right) under wraps and not run again before the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup.

The eight-year-old leapt to the head of the ante-post market for chasing's blue riband after recording back-to-back victories in the King George VI Chase at Kempton on St Stephen's Day.

"The King George has always been one of my favourite races.

"We've now won it nine times, which is a bit of a record and I'd like to think Silviniaco could be back for the treble in 12 months time," said Nicholls.

"He is a real stayer and gallops all day, so the big hope now is that he can show his true colours in the Gold Cup at Cheltenham in March. My gut feeling is that he will not run before then."


Nicholls also saddled Al Ferof to finish third in the King George and would love to drop the grey back to two miles for the Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Festival.

"Al Ferof, however, has bags of speed so I will be doing my best to persuade his owner John Hales to let me give him an entry in the Queen Mother Champion Chase and the Ryanair at the Festival," said Ditcheat handler Nicholls.