‘Ability still there’ with Conti

Paul Nicholls is optimistic Silviniaco Conti still has the ability to capture another big prize before the curtain comes down on his glittering career.

Silviniaco Conti wins the Ascot Chase last season.

Despite the 11-year-old not being the force he once was, the Ditcheat handler believes that his third-place finish in the King George VI Chase on Boxing Day suggests another top prize is within his capabilities.

The Ascot Chase on February 18, a race he won last season, is now under consideration for the seven-time Grade One scorer.

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Nicholls said: "He did run well at Kempton. I probably shouldn't have ran him at Haydock (fourth in the Betfair Chase) as it was too close to Down Royal and he ran no sort of race.

"If you take Thistlecrack out of the King George, he has been beaten a short head by Cue Card, so you can say he has made up a massive amount of ground on his Haydock defeat.

"Noel (Fehily) was thrilled with him and he has obviously still got the ability there.

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"Last year he was hard to train, but he has been easier to train this year and I'm still sure that he has got another big race in him.

"He is in good shape but there are no plans and I've not made any entries. The obvious route to go is the Ascot race he won last year, but that is not a definite plan as I need to have a meeting with the owners."

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