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Silvinaco Conti Chase: Nicholls looks for gold with Rouge Vif

Tue 11 Jan 2022

Paul Nicholls is set to rely upon Rouge Vif to provide him with a third successive victory in the Coral Silviniaco Conti Chase at Kempton on Saturday.

The Ditcheat handler, who saddled Silviniaco Conti to win back-to-back renewals of the King George at the Sunbury venue, has landed the Grade Two contest for the last two years with Frodon and Master Tommytucker.

See how Master Tommytucker won last season's Silvinaco Conti Chase

Master Tommytucker is in the mix once again but he is instead set to wait for the inaugural Winter Million Chase at Lingfield on Sunday week, leaving Rouge Vif to fly the flag for the champion trainer this weekend.

“I’ve put two in the Silviniaco Conti but looking at the forecast it looks a dry week, so the intention at the moment would be to run Rouge Vif at Kempton,” said the champion trainer.

“I suspect we will leave Master Tommytucker for the new two-mile-six race at Lingfield the following weekend as he loves the testing ground.”

A seven-times winner for Harry Whittington, Rouge Vif finished last of four on his debut for Nicholls in the Shloer Chase at Cheltenham in November.

Nicholls added: “From what I saw of Rouge Vif at Cheltenham he probably wants this sort of trip and a flat track like Kempton is probably the ideal place to try him over it.

“He ran a hell of a good race but he was just done for a bit of toe so two and a half miles should suit him better. We hope on Saturday that he can give a good account of himself.”

Rouge Vif holds entries in both the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase and Ryanair Chase the Cheltenham Festival in March. However, which of those targets, if either, he goes for will be decided at a later date, according to Nicholls.

He added: “He is in the Ryanair and Champion Chase but before we begin to talk about them let’s see how he gets on Saturday.

“He has come out of that race fine and I’d say he has improved fitness-wise. We are just hoping for a good run on Saturday and that will tell us a bit more.”

Meanwhile, Defi Du Seuil will make another attempt to get back on track in the Grade Two prize.

The JP McManus-owned gelding has flopped in all his four races since winning the Grade One Clarence House Chase at Ascot in January 2020.

His latest disappointing run came came in the Chanelle Pharma 1965 Chase back at Ascot, where he trailed home 35 lengths behind impressive winner Lostintranslation when sent off the 3-1 favourite.

That was his first run since a wind operation and 301 days off the track, but he had been pleasing trainer Philip Hobbs.

“The plan is to go to Kempton. (We’re) not sure if he badly needed his run at Ascot. Philip thought he was in good order,” said McManus’ racing manager Frank Berry.

“We’ll see how he gets on on Saturday and see where we go after that. He needs to get to somewhere near where he was.

“Philip seems happy with him, but he was quite happy before he went the last day. Whether he got tired on his first run back or what, we’ll know more after Saturday.”

Gelino set for Coral Lanzarote Hurdle

Gelino Bello appears a leading contender for the team in the Coral Lanzarote Handicap Hurdle.

Boreham Bill strikes at a whopping price in last year's race

The six-year-old has chased home the Charles Byrnes-trained Blazing Khal on his last two starts at Cheltenham, most recently over three miles.

Gellino Bello has the option of sticking to novice company in Saturday’s Ballymore Leamington Novices’ Hurdle at Warwick, but is instead set for hs handicap debut in the £100,000 prize at Kempton.

“Gelino Bello is in the Lanzarote but he is also in the Grade Two novice at Warwick on the same day. We will study the races as the week goes on, but I’d say at the moment the Lanzarote is where he will run,” said Nicholls.

“I think two-mile-five will suit him better. I’m not saying that he doesn’t get three miles, as if you take the winner out he would have won last time.

“He has got plenty of boot so this trip probably suits him quite nicely.

“He is an improving, nice young horse. I think being back on a flatter track would suit him quite well.

"A really good horse has beaten him the last twice and off 138 it puts him in there with a chance on the form of his last two runs at Cheltenham.”

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