OLVESTON-BORN champion trainer Paul Nicholls could have a new Cheltenham Gold Cup hero.
With the legendary Kauto Star and Denman now retired, the baton has been passed onto Silviniaco Conti to go for glory in the showpiece race next March after his fine victory in the Betfair Chase.
On the day where a statue of Kauto Star was unveiled at Haydock after he won the Betfair Chase four times, it seemed fitting that Silviniaco Conti emerged as a possible replacement to the superstar horse by emulating his former stable-mate’s triumph over former Gold Cup winner Long Run last year.
The six-year-old, ridden by Kauto Star’s former jockey Ruby Walsh, is now 5-1 joint-favourite for the Gold Cup after coming home by two-and-a-half lengths to make it two wins from two starts this season.
Nicholls said: “I am not going to rush him. I might even go straight to the Gold Cup now.
“He loves to be fresh. I am not going to run him through the winter in the mud. He’s only a baby. He could be really interesting come Cheltenham.”
“Long Run is a very good horse so for a six-year-old that was a very good performance. He jumps and he gallops and there is no better man in front than Ruby (Walsh).”
Meanwhile, former Marlwood School pupil Harry Derham’s claim is down to 5lb from 7lb after his win on Current Event in the Pertemps Network Handicap Chase at Kempton on Monday.
The rider, who is the nephew of Nicholls, said: I’m delighted to do it for Paul Nicholls. I have to improve again now as I don’t have such an advantage.”