Silviniaco Conti - Aintree 13.04.2012

Silviniaco Conti: quoted at 8-1 for King George after 13-length success

  PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (  

Silviniaco Conti scores easy win for Nicholls

Report: Aintree, Friday

John Smith's Mildmay Novices' Chase (Grade 2) 3m1f, 5yo+

SILVINIACO CONTI cruised to a comfortable victory for trainer Paul Nicholls and jockey Ruby Walsh, jumping well in the straight to leave Champion Court trailing in his wake.

The 7-4 favourite scored by 13 lengths from chief rival Champion Court (15-8), who was upsides jumping the third-last but had no answer once Walsh turned on the gas.

Silviniaco Conti is 12-1 for the Cheltenham Gold Cup and 10-1 (from 16) for the King George VI Chase with William Hill. Paddy Power quote 8-1 for the King George.

"He's a good horse," Nicholls said. "He really disappointed me when he ran at Ascot, but all our horses were wrong at the time and we left him out of Cheltenham for this meeting.

"He's a young, improving horse and we're really looking forward to next season with him. He'll be a really nice three-mile chaser."

Walsh was content to bide his time at the back of the five-runner field as Silviniaco Conti's stablemate Join Together cut out the running alongside the outsider Yes Tom.

Join Together took a clear lead five out, but at the next there were three abreast and it was clear that Silviniaco Conti and Champion Court were travelling better.

The two market leaders left Join Together behind and took the third-last together, but Silviniaco Conti put in the better jump and galloped home strongly to stamp his class on the race.

Champion Court's trainer Martin Keighley was not too disappointed. "It looks like Cheltenham has taken the edge off him but he has still run a mighty race," he said.

"He'll go for a well-deserved holiday now and then we'll look forward to next season, when I'd like to give him one run before the King George."

As sporting sights go, few match the sheer excitement of 40 horses thundering towards the first fence at Aintree for the John Smith's Grand National.

A race steeped in history that always provides a story, the Grand National is the ultimate test of endurance and skill for both horse and jockey, as the pairing must navigate 30 treacherous fences, and then still have enough stamina to make a challenge on the run-in.

To manage a clear round in the 4m4f epic is no mean achievement, with the fences notoriously difficult and offering unique challenges.

Over the years, there have been countless memorable moments, Devon Loch's phantom leap in the 1956 contest, Foinavon's shock 100-1 win in 1967 and the brilliance of Red Rum, who took the chase on three occasions in 1973, 74 and 77.

In 1981 Aldaniti and Bob Champion completed a heartwarming tale when winning the race, as Aldaniti had recovered from a career-threatening injury while jockey Champion had battled back from cancer.

In 2011 the race provided another fairytale story as Donald McCain emulated his father and Aintree legend Ginger when winning with Ballabriggs - and that came just a year after champion jockey Tony McCoy finally gained victory in the race at the 15th time of asking.