Silviniaco Conti Christmas’s Big Winner
Both the festive King George and Lexus Chases had a big impact on the Cheltenham Gold Cup during the last few days, with Silviniaco Conti now the 11/4 favourite to win in March.
Cheltenham Gold Cup
While the victory of Road To Riches naturally saw his price contract into 8/1 from 20’s, the overall view from Leoparstown was that the best horses failed to show, including the 2013 Gold Cup winner, Bobs Worth, who trailed in last.
Following the race, Barry Geraghty said that Bobs Worth gave him a good feel, but simply didn’t handle the testing ground, and his odds have now drifted to 16/1. Bobs Worth undoubtedly has a bit to prove having flopped in his last few outings, as has the 2014 Gold Cup winner, Lord Windermere, who was also out the back, and is now 12/1 to defend his crown.
Road To Riches
But, what of the winner, Road To Riches? While, some may crab the Lexus form, there is denying that this 7yo is improving fast, and the fact he saw 3m out here on heavy ground suggests 3m2f at Cheltenham should be fine. He may be seen next in the Hennessy in February, and victory there would see his Gold Cup odds of 8/1 slashed even further.
The failure of some of the aforementioned fancies at Leopardstown saw Silviniaco Conti’s victory in the King George stand out even further, and while managing only fourth in last year’s Gold Cup, the application of cheekpieces on his last two outings have helped the 8yo sharpen up his jumping.
Elsewhere at Kempton, Mark Bradstock’s, Coneygree, won an eventful Grade 1 novice chase to make it 2-2 over chases and is 14/1 chance for the RSA, though what he does in the Reynoldstown next will reveal about his chances.
Willie Mullins’, Faugheen, meanwhile, destroyed his rivals to land the Grade 1 Christmas Hurdle, and will take some beating in the Champion Hurdle on this performance, hence his price of 5/4 for March. He is capable of making a blip, though, and it remains to be seen if some of the more experienced heads (Hurricane Fly and Jezki) can put him under pressure in the big one.
On the domestic front, Mullins enjoyed mixed results, with the likes of Vautour disappointing in the Grade 1 novice chase at Leopardstown, finishing 17l behind Gordon Elliott’s, Clarcam. The 4yo winner is now 2-3 over chases, and this impressive display (despite the odd mistake) make him of more appeal at 12/1 for the Arkle, than Vautour at 5/1.
Mullins enjoyed better success with Twinlight in the Grade 1 novice chase over 2m1f, though he is still 20/1 for the Queen Mother at Cheltenham, mainly because doubts remain about faster ground. Uxizandre on the other hand, didn’t act on the heavy ground here, and looks interesting at 14/1 for the same race in March.
Bristol De Mai
The final say, however, goes to Nigel Twiston-Davies’ lesser-known, Bristol De Mai, who made an impressive British debut in winning a Grade 1 juvenile hurdle at Chepstow, and has now shot into 8/1 second favourite for the Triumph Hurdle.