Silviniaco Conti can boost Santa spending spree
WAY back in 1889, a bloke named Fusajiro Yamauchi set up a small company making playing cards in Kyoto, Japan.
The card games sold like hotcakes, so he quickly made more packs -- but he'd change the colour or style each time to make them more appealing than the previous version, thus ensuring each new release was eagerly awaited. He named his company Nintendo.
Feeling flush following a successful betting day last week, I asked my six-year-old what she wanted for Christmas and she told me that all her mates were getting a Nintendo Wii.
I got a nice white-coloured Wii machine arranged, but she now tells me that she wants one of the newer red ones like in the TV! And once the missus got wind of my windfall, she promptly sent me out to get the right colour Wii which is more expensive.
Apparently, the name Nintendo translates to "leave luck to heaven" but with my betting pot getting raided by Santa left right and centre, I could do with some more good fortune at Cheltenham.
Perhaps the Paul Nicholls- trained Silviniaco Conti can help me out on that front in the StanJames.com International Hurdle (3.05 Cheltenham) and 11/4 is fair value when you sift through the form of each runner. He's built a lovely picket fence beside his name with five career wins (three of those in Britain), most recently taking the Ascot Hurdle at the expense of Karabak, Restless Harry and Zaynar.
He's young, exciting and jumps fluently, so I'm sure he has a great future in the top level races. The drop back in trip to 2m 1f won't be a problem as he has plenty of speed, and I'm not too worried about a lack of experience at Cheltenham.
On the negative side, he has to concede 4lbs to a couple of horses, including Menorah, which put in a cracking performance when taking the Greatwood Handicap Hurdle here in November -- and it's not surprising to see Philip Hobbs' gelding at the top of the market. Cue Card is another danger to the bet and Colin Tizzard has made no secret about how highly he rates the four-year-old, but Silviniaco Conti is a confident selection today.
Some firms have chalked up Sunnyhill Boy in double figures for the Vote AP Gold Cup (2.30 Cheltenham) which seems a little generous. He ran a cracker when second to Great Endeavour at the festival in March and is expected to come on for his latest run in November's Paddy Power Gold Cup at this venue.
25/1 Followers of the 'Betting Ring' had their pre-budget blues eased last week with two winners from three bets. Versus Decorus won in the opening maiden at 5/4 in Southwell, while the each-way outsider selection, Hidden Glory, took the Southwell-racecourse. co.uk Handicap at 25/1 (36/1 on Betfair). The three-year-old hit the front a furlong from home and there was simply no reeling him in.
12.10 Cheltenham: Sam Winner
1.10 Southwell: William Morgan
1.55 Cheltenham: Master Minded
2.20 Southwell: Lay Claim
2.30 Cheltenham: Sunnyhill Boy (e/w)
3.05 Cheltenham: Silviniaco Conti