Conti enjoys Chepstow gallop

Paul Nicholls feels Silviniaco Conti is approaching peak condition ahead of his seasonal return in the Champion Chase at Down Royal on Saturday week.

Partnered by Harry Derham, the multiple Grade One-winning 10-year-old was one of four horses from the Ditcheat handler's yard to participate in a racecourse gallop over two miles ahead of racing at Chepstow on Tuesday.

The dual King George VI Chase hero was joined in the exercise at the Monmouthshire track by Ptit Zig (Andrew Doyle), Aux Ptits Soins (Nick Scholfield) and Zubayr (Harry Cobden).

Nicholls said: "It's a bit of a day out for them really. They've been working at home since mid-July.

"It was good of Chepstow to let us do that. They've just done a half speed canter and quickened up for the final furlong.

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"All four have got engagements next weekend. The day out would have done them the world of good and I was pleased with all four of them.

"The plan is to take Silviniaco Conti to Down Royal next weekend. It is a Grade One with good prize-money and it is right-handed track, which he likes.

"For the first time for a long time he has been easy to train and the sarcoids have not been playing up.

"He has been in since mid-July and had been working hard and has not missed a beat. In a lot of ways I would say he is close to being back to his best fitness-wise.

"Aux Ptits Soins will have an entry in the Rising Stars Novices' Chase at Wincanton and Zubayr in the Elite Hurdle. They will go there ground permitting.

"Ptit Zig will go back to Auteuil for Grade One hurdle next weekend."

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