Silviniaco Conti completes stunning defence of King George crown

Noel Fehily helps trainer Paul Nicholls to claim ninth victory in big Kempton race

Noel Fehily rode Silviniaco Conti  to victory in the William Hill King George VI  at Kempton. Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Noel Fehily rode Silviniaco Conti to victory in the William Hill King George VI at Kempton. Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

 

Noel Fehily kept it simple as Silviniaco Conti repeated his win of 12 months ago in the William Hill King George VI Chase at Kempton.

Despite being challenged early for the lead by Cue Card and Champagne Fever, last year’s winner saw them off after half a mile and barely made a semblance of a mistake, jumping for fun.

The challengers were stacking up behind him at the third-last, with Champagne Fever and Dynaste looking menacing as well as the outsider Johns Spirit.

However, another big leap gained him an unassailable advantage and the 15 to 8 favourite pulled four and a half lengths clear of Dynaste. Al Ferof stayed on for third to give trainer Paul Nicholls and one-three.

Nicholls was taking the race for the ninth time as Silviniaco Conti became the 14th dual winner of the Christmas highlight.

Nicholls said: “We’d not had the best of days today because of one thing or another, but he was very good.

“He’s a much improved horse this year and you never stop learning about him. I just think he’s in a much better place now, he’s a real true stayer and we can look better towards Cheltenham.

“He jumped well, he just gallops and stays, that was our plan, to make it a test, as he’s really fit.

“Whether he runs again before the Gold Cup, that is what we need to discuss.”

Fehily said: “I think he’s proved today what a very good horse he is, whatever the ground.

“He did it the hard way, he went a real good gallop and picked it up from the bend.

“The Betfair (Chase) was a very good performance and he backed it up today. He’s just a hell of a good horse.

“I gave him a little breather on the bend and I knew when I gave him a squeeze he would pick up and it would take a good one to go past me.”

Of the third home, Al Ferof, Nicholls said: “Al Ferof has run a hell of a race, too. I’ve just been teasing John (Hales, owner) as he looks beat and then stays on over three miles but I don’t think he’s a true stayer.

“I said to him to let me run him in the Champion Chase, I’d love to go back to two miles with him and let him bowl along in front, but I’ve a bit of work to do on John. His class gets him there, but he’s got enough pace for two miles.”

David Pipe, trainer of Dynaste, said: “He’s run his heart out and beaten some good horses and been second to the Gold Cup favourite.

“We thought we had him in good form, although I’m not sure he came on that much for Haydock.

“It was a fantastic run and he ran all the way to the line, which he doesn’t always do.

“I’m sure he’ll have entries in both races at Cheltenham (Ryanair and Gold Cup), but I’d rather win a Ryanair than be placed in a Gold Cup.”

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