Jockey Noel Fehily believes a spin over hurdles was just what the doctor ordered for Silviniaco Conti ahead of his bid to win the Betfair Chase for a third time at Haydock on Saturday.
The Paul Nicholls-trained nine-year-old blew away the cobwebs in his first run since winning Aintree’s Betfred Bowl for the second year running in April when finishing second to Brother Tedd earlier this month.
“Paul’s very happy with him. He’s fresh and in good form after Kempton so it’s all systems go,” said Fehily.
“I was delighted with him there. He felt great. There was plenty left to work on and it will have brought him on plenty, so fingers crossed.
“Cue Card was very good at Wetherby the last day and looked like he was back to his old self and he’s going to be hard to beat again.”
Dynaste was one place ahead of Silviniaco Conti when second to Cue Card in 2013 but was placed third in the race 12 months ago.
He is one of two possible runners from the David Pipe stable along with Ballynagour after the pair took minor honours behind Cue Card in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby recently.
Stable jockey Tom Scudamore said: “I don’t know which one I’ll be on – I don’t know if we run both of them.
“They’ve also got other options. I imagine the potential of what might happen in the Hennessy might play a part, too.
“They are both in that as well. We’ll wait and see what David says and go from there.
“They both ran a great race last time. They would obviously have to improve a little bit to beat the likes of Cue Card and Silviniaco Conti, but they are fantastic horses in their own right.”
Silviniaco Conti is 11-10 favourite for the Betfair Chase ahead of Cue Card who is a 3-1 shot.
Dynaste is next in the market at 8s with Ballynagour 10s, Holywell 16s, Menorah 20s and Ofaolains Boy the 25-1 outsider.
Barry Geraghty, meanwhile, is poised to ride Rock On Ruby for the first time in the Coral Hurdle at Ascot on Saturday.
Noel Fehily has been ever-present in the saddle since the 10-year-old’s career-defining success in the 2012 Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, but the jockey is set to head to Haydock to partner Silviniaco Conti in the Betfair Chase.
Fehily’s expected absence means Geraghty is likely to come in for the mount in the Grade Two.
Trainer Harry Fry said: “Noel obviously has to go to Haydock as he’s committed to riding Silviniaco Conti. The plan at the moment, all being well, is that Barry Geraghty will ride.
“It’s not 100 per cent, but that’s the idea at the moment.
“With the Relkeel Hurdle being moved from the December meeting to New Year’s Day this season, we were keen to find him another race in between Wetherby and Cheltenham and this looked the obvious opportunity.”
FIVE TO FOLLOW
1, Sun’ Aq (tonight, 4.55pm Chelmsford): Down in class from a Group 3 and can strike for Sir Mark Prescott and Luke Morris.
2, Crazy Chic (tonight, 6.05pm Chelmsford): Won three out of three seven furlong races on the all-weather for Marco Botti.
3, Greenside (tonight, 6.40pm Chelmsford): Looked a horse to follow when bolting up at HQ last time.
4, Bridge Of Sighs (tonight, 7.10pm Chelmsford): Impressed with his sweeping run in his recent victory and can defy a 5lbs rise.
5, Jaiyana (tomorrow, 4.45pm Wolves): Nutted on the line on Monday and can gain compensation.
Ben Pauling: Small yard but a big 57 per cent strike rate over the last seven days approaching yesterday’s racing. Anthony Honeyball and Jessica Harrington also going well.
David Pipe: One winner from his last 29 runners approaching yesterday’s racing. Also, go careful with Willie Mullins and Paul Nicholls odds on shots with a few beaten of late.