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Gold Cup hope Silviniaco Conti still to prove Cheltenham to his taste

| 15.10.2013

Last term was a watershed one for Paul Nicholls’ Silviniaco Conti as they classy grey assembled a formidable three straight triumphs on the road to Cheltenham, culminating in a seven-length dismissal of 2012 Gold Cup silver-medallist The Giant Bolster.

However, whilst his price for the big race constricted, the question of his liking for the undulations of Cheltenham remained unanswered and the performance he delivered on Festival Friday will have done little answer the questions of punters pondering his Cheltenham 2014 odds.

It was his only his second career run around the none-more-testing undulations of the Festival course and with rider Ruby Walsh suggesting he’d yet to pop the question to his ally when the grey fell 3f from home, there’s plenty of chance a superior performance given a cleaner round of jumping at Cheltenham 2014.

His only other Prestbury Park outing was a respectable third to Supreme Novices Hurdle winner Menorah over timber and that came over a seemingly inadequate 2m1f in 2010.

Unlike Nicky Henderson, his main rival in the training ranks, Paul Nicholls will be able to focus the lion’s share of his powers on readying Silviniaco Conti as his main Gold Cup hope.

By contrast Henderson has two Gold Cup winners in his yard in Long Run and Bobs Worth.

The possibility of bringing the enigmatic former back to his best must be a challenge the Seven Barrows maestro is savouring, whilst having to also campaign reigning champion Bobs Worth means that somewhere along the line compromises may have to be made.