Absolved Silvi strikes Aintree gold

Blackpool Citizen: Silviniaco Conti and Noel Fehily, right, win the Betfred Bowl at Aintree Silviniaco Conti and Noel Fehily, right, win the Betfred Bowl at Aintree

Noel Fehily admitted to being haunted as to why Silviniaco Conti has yet to win a Cheltenham Gold Cup but the jockey could take some comfort in the chestnut's follow-up victory at Aintree.

Silviniaco Conti (9-4) came down three fences out when still in with a chance under Ruby Walsh at last year's Festival, but three weeks ago he was still leading on the run-in and wandered across the course as Lord Windermere and two other late finishers rushed past.

He went on to be beaten by First Lieutenant in the 2013 Betfred Bowl but handsomely settled an old score with Mouse Morris' representative, who eventually claimed fourth, and added this Grade One prize to his most important one to date, the King George VI Chase at Kempton.

Fehily was keen to ensure the three-mile-one-furlong contest was a searching test of stamina and set a good gallop from the outset as First Lieutenant studied him closely.

However, it was the Ryanair winner and 13-8 favourite Dynaste who became the closest pursuer as the Paul Nicholls-trained Silviniaco Conti suffered what may have been another lapse in concentration approaching the final fence.

Desperate not to settle for minor honours again, Fehily implored Silviniaco Conti to dig deeper and Dynaste was never quite allowed to impose himself as David Pipe's grey finished a length and a half behind.

"He's unlucky not to win a Gold Cup and he deserved to win this," said Fehily.

"I didn't sleep a lot that night (after Cheltenham). I was absolutely sick. I thought he was the best horse and that he would gallop all the way to the line.

"I think he likes a little bit of company, he likes to go along with other horses."

Nicholls said: "There's no doubt he stays, but there is just the question of whether he might one day need the help of headgear.

"At Cheltenham he jumped the last, looked like he was going to win, then ran left and ran a bit green. Then he stayed on when they went past him.

"He just wanders around in front. I'll talk to the lads, there's Punchestown but I think we'll probably end it on that."

"We've needed a good chaser after Kauto and Denman, and he's done fantastically well winning the Betfair Chase last season and the King George.

"He ran well in the Gold Cup and didn't win it so we'll go back for that next year and hopefully win some nice races along the way."

Pipe is also likely to now give Dynaste a summer holiday.

"It was a cracking run," he said.

"He has been beaten by a better horse on the day, and we'll look forward for next season now.

"It'll be the same sort of races and aim towards Cheltenham again.

"He's had a fantastic season and I'd say Punchestown was unlikely because he's had two tough races."

Argocat came through to grab third from First Lieutenant under Tony McCoy and trainer Tom Taaffe said: "It was a good run. He ran as I expected.

"He had a terrible fall at Down Royal early in the season and it took us two months to get him back trotting again.

"Tony said if he had known him better he might have been able to help him a bit more.

"He'll now go for the Gold Cup at Punchestown."

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