Focus on Saturday's Silviniaco Conti Chase at Kempton Park

Just four go to post for Saturday’s Kempton Park feature, the Silviniaco Conti Chase, a Grade 2 event over two and a half miles. Planet Sport tipster Jonathan Doidge runs the rule over the runners.

Eldorado Allen

Relatively unexposed as a chaser, having won three of just six such starts, Colin Tizzard's eight-year-old heads to Kempton Park in the form of his life.

There was certainly no shame in being beaten 12 lengths by Shishkin, when second to him in last season's Arkle, although he was below par when thrashed by Protektorat on his final start of the season at Aintree.

It was no surprise to see him doing his best work in the closing stages of the extended two miles and one furlong Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter in November, when he made a winning reappearance in that Grade 2 event.

He improved on that effort despite being just over six lengths third to First Flow in the Grade 2 Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon when last seen just over a month ago.

On that occasion he made a couple of mistakes, showing he is still learning about the game at this level, and they had him on the back foot. Perhaps the good ground meant that things happened a little too quickly for him. However, as the race progressed, he came home well enough and showed a good attitude.

That should stand him in good stead as he continues to build experience against other good horses here. He can't be ruled out.

Assistant trainer Joe Tizzard gave his thoughts in the build-up to the race: "He got the trip really well at Huntingdon last time.

"He missed one down the back which cost him ground at a crucial time and he stayed on really nicely.

"We tried him over that trip for the first time and he got the trip all right.

"I'm quite looking forward to running him in a small field tomorrow and I think he will run a big race.

"All the other trainers are bound to fancy their chances - it is one of those races. I think we have got as good a chance as any and it wouldn't be a surprise if any one of them won.

"He is in good form, the trip is ideal for him and I think he'll like Kempton.

"That form of his run at Exeter, when he beat Hitman, means he's got a 6lb penalty, but that form stacks up really well as Hitman went on to finish second (to Greaneteen) in the Tingle Creek and I think this is the perfect race for him."

Mister Fisher

Another in this field who is just short of the ability to win a good Grade 1 event but is clearly worth his place in those fields. He wins his share at this level, however, having scored in Grade 2 company over hurdles and twice over fences.

The most recent on those came when the 2020 Peterborough Chase was switched from Huntingdon to Cheltenham, and he proved too good for Kalashnikov on soft ground.

That was, in fact, his most recent success, having pulled up behind Allaho in last year's Grade 1 Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival and then blotted his copybook when a second bad mistake caused him to unship Nico de Boinville in the Grade 1 Betway Bowl at Aintree in April.

His subsequent neck second to Frodon in the four-runner Grade 2 Oaksey Chase (2m6f) at Sandown later that month again served to underline his abilities when dropped back to this level, as did his failure to complete in the Grade 1 King George VI Chase on his reappearance last month.

He is likely to be in the van here and is he fences fluently he will go to Kempton with a serious chance of winning another Grade 2.

"The race is actually made for him, but I just hope the ground isn't too tacky. Otherwise two and half miles around Kempton is absolutely perfect for him," said Nicky Henderson.

"He has only had the one run this year, in the King George, and I won't say he didn't stay.

"It was his first run since the last day of last season when he got beaten a neck by Frodon at Sandown (in the Grade 2 Oaksey Chase). So, he was entitled to need the run and he probably did just need it.

"We are coming back to his optimum distance here. We were trying to see if he stayed three miles - he probably might do, I don't think it was a lack of stamina last time. He'd run a good race until three out on the bend.

"This is ideal as long as it is not tacky old ground, as he won't enjoy it."

Defi Du Seuil

Two seasons ago he was at the top of his game and he is stands alone in this field as a horse who is very much proven at the elite level.

The Philip Hobbs-trained nine-year-old can boast seven Grade 1 wins to his name, three over hurdles and the last four of them over the larger obstacles.

Surprisingly, for all that, this will be his first run at Kempton Park. His record suggests a stiffer track would be ideal (most of his wins have come at places such as Cheltenham, Sandown, Ascot and Exeter), but he has also won around the much nippier Aintree.

His issues appear to have begun after his most recent success, in the 2020 renewal of the Grade 1 Clarence House Chase at Ascot.

He wasn't far short of that form when beaten at 2-5 in the Queen Mother Champion Chase won by Politologue that year, and has been seen only three times since, being well below his best each time.

Sent off as the favourite, he trailed in last of the four finishers behind three of this field in the Grade 2 1965 Chase at Ascot in November, when Hobbs was at a loss to explain his run.

Perhaps he needed that run, or perhaps he simply is not the force he was. The plan is for him to run on Saturday and a revived Defi Du Seuil would be very tough to beat at this level. If he can't produce something close to his best again, then the fear will be that his best days really are behind him.

Philip Hobbs said: "He seems in very good form and I think we have the right conditions - two and a half miles and softish ground. So, hopefully he has got a good chance.

"Obviously he was disappointing last time, but hopefully now we are in the right place."

Rouge Vif

Formerly with Harry Whittington, for whom he won seven times, three of them over fences. Those included a Grade 2 win over hurdles and also one over fences, when he beat Nube Negra by seven lengths in the 2020 running of Warwick's Kingmaker Novices' Chase.

A similar effort to that at Cheltenham next time would have given him a chance in the Arkle, but the pace that day seemed to stretch him, although there was no disgrace in being around 20 lengths third behind the winner Put The Kettle On.

He bounced back with a confidence-boosting reappearance win at Cheltenham last season, before being put in his place first by Politologue in the Grade 1 Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown, and then when 25 lengths adrift of winner Nube Negra in the Grade 2 Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton in December 2020.

Last of nine behind Put The Kettle On in last year's Queen Mother Champion Chase, he subsequently had wind surgery and was then removed from Whittington's yard last summer by owners Kate and Andrew Brooks, who sent him to join the Paul Nicholls team at Ditcheat.

He reappeared, his first start for Nicholls, when last of four in the Grade 2 Schloer Chase at Cheltenham in November, when again behind Nube Negra, Politologue and Put The Kettle On. His previous trainer was often keen to stress that he is a better horse on good ground, so although he has won on soft, connections will be hoping for things to dry out by Saturday.

They will also probably hoping that he will settle better and perhaps a hood might be employed at some stage, to see if that helps. Although better off than some at the weights compared to if this were a handicap, it is clear that he has a few things to prove if he is going to win a third Grade 2 contest.

"We've only run him once, but he was fourth in a good race at Cheltenham. Bryony (Frost) said he was flat out most of the way last time and that he wants two and a half (miles)," said Paul Nicholls.

"He ran a hell of a good race but he was just done for a bit of toe, so two and a half miles should suit him better. We hope on Saturday that he can give a good account of himself."

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