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Conti seeking to emulate Kauto Star
24 Dec 2014 16:04
Silviniaco Conti is favourite to emulate former stablemate Kauto Star and land successive editions of the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Friday.
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Paul Nicholl's stable star underlined his wellbeing for the St Stephen's Day showcase when winning Haydock's Betfair Chase last month.
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In fourth that day was Cue Card, Colin Tizzard's eight-year-old who is seeking to go one better after taking second 12 months ago.
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While Cue Card has yet to show his best this term, Nicholls' runner is evidently as good as ever, and tops bookmaker's ante-post lists at a best priced 5-2.
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Nicholls is also represented by Al Ferof, last year's third who tuned up with a Grade 2 win at Ascot on his first run of the season a month ago, and outsider Wonderful Charm.
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Ireland's sole raider is Champagne Fever from the all-cnquering Willie Mullins stable. The seven-year-old earned his ticket to Kempton with an impressive win in heavy ground at Clonmel.
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However, Mullins, who won the race with Florida Pearl in 2001, travels having been served a dose of reality on his horse's chances of becoming the first Irish winner since two-time winner Kicking King won his second one in 2005.
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"Someone did (a newspaper article) on the King George and gave 11 parameters and said you want to pass seven or eight of them to win a King George," Mullins told The Guardian.
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"Our fellow qualified on three."
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Other notable entries include last month's Paddy Power runner-up Johns Spirit (25-1) and Dynaste (8-1) who was fifth in last year's race.
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The first of Nicholls' eight King George wins was delivered by See More Business in 1997.
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"It seems like an eternity ago," Nicholls recalled in The Daily Telegraph this week.
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"It was our first, really big winner so it was a magic moment and the start of some really good things for us. I love the race."
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