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Silviniaco Conti favoured to lead the staying chasers this season

| 23.11.2014

Jumping the last in front during the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March, Silviniaco Conti looked to be striding to a composed win having enjoyed a stellar National Hunt season to that point.

According to his trainer Paul Nicholls, the 8-year-old’s bread and butter is staying, but up the challenging and infamous hill at Prestbury Park, the then 11/4 shot was found wanting as three horses, including eventual 20/1 winner Lord Windermere, passed him between the final fence and the finish.

A disappointing favourite when finishing fifth on his seasonal reappearance in the Charlie Hall Chase at the start of the month, Silviniaco Conti got back to winning ways with an impressive win in Haydock’s Betfair Chase, beating Menorah, who bested him in that November debut, by two lengths.

The win saw Nicholls’ French gelding installed as the 6/1 favourite for the Cheltenham Gold Cup next year, a race that the trainer believes is well within his horse’s grasp:

“That’s two Betfairs and a King George and my mission now is to get him in the form of his life for the Gold Cup. If he’d been right last year we might have had a different result, but he wasn’t and he didn’t but I’m convinced Cheltenham won’t be a problem for him,” Nicholls said.

With his season now set to be geared towards jumps racing’s pinnacle, Conti will take to defending his King George VI crown at Kempton Park on Boxing Day, where Ladbrokes make him the outright favourite from Champagne Fever at 3/1.

Menorah, who has made an eye-catching start to the season, is a 20/1 shot for the Gold Cup, with Holywell marked as the second favourite behind Silviniaco Conti at 8/1.

Bobs Worth, the beaten Gold Cup favourite last time, shares 10/1 odds with Champagne Fever for the 2015 edition.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.