sport

Conti going straight for Gold

Silviniaco Conti is virtually certain to go straight for the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup following his victory in the King George VI Chase.

While his trainer Paul Nicholls is unlikely to give his Kempton hero a prep run before the Festival, stablemate Al Ferof, who was third, is set to take in the Denman Chase at Newbury next month.

"Silviniaco Conti will almost certainly go straight to the Gold Cup," the Ditcheat trainer said in his blog on betfair.com.

"Al Ferof will take in the Denman Chase at Newbury next month before we decide whether to go down the Ryanair or Gold Cup route with him."

Nicholls gave updates on many of his stable stars, starting with Unioniste who is unlikely to head for the Gold Cup after being unplaced in the Lexus Chase behind Bobs Worth.

"Even though he ran a career-best on ratings, the Lexus told us that Unioniste is probably not good enough for the Gold Cup just yet - you have to remember that he is still only a six-year-old - but he will get an entry just in case the ground comes up bottomless," said Nicholls.

"My immediate target for him is a conditions race over three and a quarter miles at Kelso next month, with the 2015 Grand National further down the line!

"Hennessy runner-up Rocky Creek is fine after his little setback after Newbury and goes for the Argento at Cheltenham on January 25, and he will get an entry for the Gold Cup as well as the Grand National.

"I would think that our Welsh National third Tidal Bay - what a star he is, by the way - will now go straight to Aintree.

"Chepstow runner-up Hawkes Point will go to the Haydock Grand National Trial in February en route to Aintree, while There's No Panic will also have a Grand National entry but we will wait for better ground for his next run.

"The legend that is Big Buck's is being aimed at the Cleeve Hurdle but I would possibly like to get one more racecourse gallop into him before then."