Nicholls: Silviniaco will have to be at the top of his game

Silviniaco Conti: has not won on his seasonal reappearance since 2012

PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos) Nicholls: Conti will have to be at top of his game By Tony O'Hehir 6:02PM 4 NOV 2016

SILVINIACO CONTI heads an impressive cast for the first Grade 1 chase of the season – Saturday's JNwine.com Champion Chase – as he attempts to give Paul Nicholls a fifth victory in the race.

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First run as a Grade 1 in 2002, the roll of honour for Northern Ireland's biggest race includes Kauto Star and Beef Or Salmon, both of whom were dual winners, and Don Cossack, who was successful a year ago before going on to Cheltenham Gold Cup glory.

In addition to his two victories with Kauto Star (2008 and 2010), Nicholls also landed the Down Royal prize with Taranis in 2007 and Kauto Stone in 2012.

Seven-time Grade 1-winner Silviniaco Conti has not won on his seasonal reappearance since landing the Charlie Hall at Wetherby four years ago, but Nicholls is happy with his preparation.

"It's a hot race and although he's in good shape he'll have to be at the top of his game," the trainer said. "He's done plenty of work and I'm looking forward to running him."

High-class opposition

Up against six rivals, Silviniaco Conti will be bidding to deny, in particular, Gigginstown House Stud, who are represented by Don Poli, Valseur Lido and this year's Galway Plate winner Lord Scoundrel.

Don Poli, a three-time Grade 1 winner over fences for Willie Mullins and third in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March, will be having his first run for Gordon Elliott and will have Barry Geraghty on board for the first time.

Ruby Walsh partners dual Grade 1 winner Valseur Lido, who recently joined Henry de Bromhead.

Tags: DOWN ROYAL

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