Stuart Williams takes an in-depth look at the runners for the Silviniaco Conti Chase at Kempton on Saturday.
Silviniaco Conti Chase Preview & Runners Guide
This Grade 2 contest has cut-up significantly at the declaration stage and only four will go to post at Kempton on Saturday. However, those four include the hugely exciting Imperial Aura, whom is currently contesting favouritism for the Grade 1 Ryanair Chase, and last season's Grade 1 Ascot Chase scorer Riders Onthe Storm, whom could easily bounce back from a below par effort at Cheltenham and could provide a stern test for Kim Bailey's charge.
Master Tommytucker also rates an fascinating contender on the pick of his form and Clondaw Castle has certainly found improvement since stepping-up to two-and-a-half miles. Therefore any of the four could reign supreme on Saturday, which makes for an intriguing contest.
Paul Nicholls is the only trainer represented to have won this race before having saddled King George VI Chase hero Frodon to land the spoils 12 months ago, and I'm sure that he would love to land the spoils once more given that the race is named in honour of his dual King George victor Silviniaco Conti.
Without further ado, let's take a closer look at the small, but select, field.
Silviniaco Conti Chase Runners
Imperial Aura hasn't looked back since chasing home subsequent Cheltenham Festival scorer Simply The Betts at Cheltenham last January, and his latest success in the Grade 2 Chanelle Pharma 1965 Chase at Ascot was enough to propel him to the head of the betting for the Ryanair Chase.
Kim Bailey's rising star landed the Listed Northern Trust Company Novices' Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March and readily saw off some promising second season chasers on his seasonal reappearance in the Listed Colin Parker Memorial Intermediate Chase at Carlisle. However, he undoubtedly took his form to a whole new level when comfortably outpointing Itchy Feet and Real Steel at Ascot, and he line-up on Saturday as the highest rated horse in the field.
That said, both Itchy Feet and Real Steel have let that form down subsequently, albeit the latter faced a tough assignment in the Grade 1 King George VI Chase, and Imperial Aura will face similarly progressive types at Kempton on Saturday, therefore he isn't the only runner who could have further improvement to come.
He is, however, versatile in terms of ground and has most likely been trained with this race in mind given the time frame between now and Cheltenham, while some in the race may have, or indeed have had, other primary targets. Therefore he is clearly a very big player and commands the utmost respect.
The lightly raced Master Tommytucker is a fascinating horse as he clearly possesses a great deal of ability but is prone to making the occasional howler, as proven by his form-figures of 1FF at Kempton Park.
In all fairness, Paul Nicholls' ten-year-old has been much more polished on the whole this season and he certainly didn't miss a beat when trouncing Good Boy Bobby, who has since placed fourth in the ultra-competitive Caspian Caviar Gold Cup, and subsequent Ascot scorer Dashel Drasher at Haydock in November.
Master Tommytucker could only place seventh in the aforementioned Caspian Caviar Gold Cup, however, given his tendency to make a mistake I'm not sure big field handicaps will ever prove his forte, and I would happily put a line through that effort and judge him on his performances under more suitable conditions.
The enthusiastic son of Kayf Tara defeated subsequent Grade 2 scorer Who Dares Wins over two-miles-and-two furlongs at Kempton last season before falling in both the Grade 1 Kauto Star Novices Chase and the Grade 2 Pendil Novices' Chase. However, he has successfully completed the course on all four of his outings this season (2117) and I wouldn't be concerned about his Kempton Park hoodoo.
Master Tommytucker is rated 8lbs inferior to Imperial Aura and 7lbs inferior to Mister Fisher, but will receive a handy 6lbs which puts him firmly in the mix. Therefore he commands respect and could prove tough to catch if jumping soundly at the head of affairs.
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Riders Onthe Storm
Riders Onthe Storm was undoubtedly one of the great success stories of last season, which got underway with a handicap success from a mark of 140 and ended with an unlucky fall in the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham, which came hot on the heels of a Grade 1 success in the Ascot Chase in February.
The progressive son of Scorpion simply got better and better with each start last winter, and he was still travelling well within himself when coming to grief at the tricky downhill fence (3 out) at the Festival in March.
There is no question that the Nigel Twiston-Davies trained eight-year-old would be a huge player if rediscovering that form Saturday, however, he does have something to prove after being beaten 57 lengths in the Grade 2 Shloer Chase at Cheltenham in November. That said, he should be well suited by stepping back-up in trip and three of his last four victories have been achieved on right-handed tracks, including his crowing success last February.
The softening ground will also be in his favour and he has been given plenty of time to recover from his seasonal reappearance. Therefore he is clearly a danger to all if bouncing back to his best.
Clondaw Castle was beaten a shade of 7 lengths when placing third behind Mister Fisher in the rescheduled Peterborough Chase at Cheltenham last month, and he will need to take another step forwards to make his presence felt at this level.
Tom George's nine-year-old has most certainly improved since stepping-up to two-and-a-half-miles and he followed-up a solid runner-up effort behind the progressive Nuts Well with a smart handicap success at Newbury in November.
That contest rates a solid piece of form and Clondaw Castle will receive 6lbs from two of his three rivals this weekend, which is obviously advantageous. However, this is clearly a much more demanding assignment on paper and he is undoubtedly seen to best effect on decent ground. Therefore others make greater appeal.
Silviniaco Conti Chase Tips
Imperial Aura warrants his place in the market following his impressive Grade 2 success at Ascot and he will look to enhance his Ryanair Chase credentials once more on Saturday. Track, trip and ground are not a concern and he could easily prove tough to beat if improving once again.
Riders Onthe Storm could easily bounce back from his disappointing effort at Cheltenham, which was simply too bad to be true given what he achieved last season. He should appreciate returning to two-and-a-half-miles and three of his last four victories have been achieved going-right handed. Therefore he shouldn't be underestimated on Saturday.
Clondaw Castle and MASTER TOMMYTUCKER will receive 6lbs from their aforementioned rivals and it may well be worth chancing the latter, who should be well suited by the small field and could lead them all a merry dance if getting into a good rhythm early on.
Lightly raced for his age, Paul Nicholls ten-year-old defeated a subsequent Grade 2 scorer at this venue last season and looked set to play a major role in two subsequent starts at the Sunbury track before succumbing to momentary lapses of concentration. However, he has looked much more like the finished article in four starts this season and he could easily prove to be a solid performer at this level.
The form of his penultimate outing at Haydock, when defeating 144, 152 and 142 rated rivals by upwards of 15 lengths while hard on the bridle, certainly supports that theory and he handled soft ground perfectly well on that occasion, therefore that wouldn't be a concern on Saturday.
Master Tommytucker has had four weeks to recover from his outing in the Grade 3 Caspian Caviar Gold Cup at Cheltenham and there's a good chance that the eleven-time champion trainer has had this race in mind for some time.
Silviniaco Conti Chase Entries
- Imperial Aura
- Master Tommytucker
- Riders Onthe Storm
- Clondaw Castle
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