Silviniaco Conti goes for Betfair Ascot Chase
Silviniaco Conti will be seen next in the Betfair Ascot Chase on February 20.
The dual King George VI Chase winner was pulled up in the Kempton showpiece on Boxing Day and will be having his first start since then, with a view to running at Aintree in April, although the Grand National appears unlikely, this year at least.
Trainer Paul Nicholls said: "He's going to run in the Betfair Ascot Chase a week on Saturday, which is a little bit of a change of plan.
"He's not in the Gold Cup, but although he's in the World Hurdle, I don't really want to go to Cheltenham with him.
"He's potentially got two targets later in the season at Aintree. He's got an entry in the National but that is only a tentative entry and he's more than likely to run in the Bowl, the race he has won the last two seasons.
"Then he'll go to Punchestown and the National could be something we look at in 12 months' time."
The champion trainer was speaking at a press morning ahead of Newbury's Betfair Hurdle meeting this weekend.
He added: "He's had a bit of a stop-start season, the problem with sarcoids (a common type of skin tumour affecting horses), but for the first time this season I am happy with him, as he is not in any pain from the sarcoids, so hopefully we can have a great spring with him.
"It's a Grade One race at Ascot and although it is two-five which is a bit short for him, the way the ground has been, you want to have a stayer.
"He looks great at the moment and I am happy the sarcoids have healed up. He had a racecourse gallop last week at Wincanton and we have been cracking on with him."
Nicholls also indicated Vibrato Valtat would be heading straight for the Ryanair Chase at the Festival.
Graham Clark, Press Association Sport