Paul Nicholls’ exciting young novice chaser Silviniaco Conti appears set to take his chance in the Grade 1 William Hill Feltham Novices Chase at Kempton Park on Boxing Day, a race seen as a key trial for the RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March, writes Elliot Slater.

The French bred gelding will tackle three miles for the first time in his career but hopes are high that he will see out the trip and the relatively easy Sunbury circuit should give him every chance of proving himself at the new distance. Everything about the horse suggests that he should stay without too much trouble and Nicholls appears quietly confident that the step into unknown territory won’t prove beyond this talented performer. Anyone following the Kempton Park betting odds should bear this in mind.

Last term Silviniaco Conti established himself as useful young hurdler, joining Nicholls from France in October 2010 having previously been under the tutelage of Guillaume Macaire. He made an immediate impression in landing his first three starts for his new connections, two of which were at Grade 2 level, including a very impressive romp to victory in the Coral Hurdle at Ascot where he despatched the talented Karabak with the minimum of fuss.

Third to the high-class Menorah in the International Hurdle last December, he then flopped badly when beaten a long way into fourth behind Mille Chief in the Kingwell Hurdle and all plans to race in the Champion Hurdle were quickly shelved. Given a good break and having schooled in style over fences, the son of Dom Alco looked in need of the outing but ran with promise when a respectable third to Cue Card on his chasing bow at Chepstow in October, then put that experience to very good use when slamming Mad Moose by 25-lengths at Wincanton last month. Anyone looking at the Betfair horse betting site should remember this.

Currently a best priced 14/1 shot for the Grade 1 RSA Chase, those odds will tumble if Silviniaco Conti puts up a good performance at Kempton’s showcase fixture.

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