King George VI Chase: Silviniaco Conti defends Kempton title
Silviniaco Conti led from start to finish to complete back-to-back wins in the King George VI Chase at Kempton.
The 15-8 favourite travelled well throughout and jumped superbly to give trainer Paul Nicholls a record ninth win in the race.
Noel Fehily's mount set the early pace with Irish challenger Champagne Fever.
As his rivals faded, Silviniaco Conti held on to win by four-and-a-half lengths from Dynaste (7-1) with Al Ferof (7-1) third for Nicholls.
He is now priced as favourite at around 5-2 for March's Cheltenham Gold Cup, a race where he finished fourth this year, and Nicholls has yet to decide whether the eight-year-old runs again before the Festival.
"He's a much improved horse this year and you never stop learning about him," said Nicholls. "I just think he's in a much better place now. He's a real true stayer and we can look better towards Cheltenham.
|BBC horse racing correspondent Cornelius Lysaght|
|"That was surely the best performance to date by Silviniaco Conti, who bossed the whole race, exposing his rivals' stamina deficiencies ruthlessly, jumping practically flawlessly. Paul Nicholls's record across the jump racing spectrum is fabulous but taking this great, mid-season championship race yet again is simply phenomenal."|
"He jumped well, he just gallops and stays, that was our plan - to make it a test, as he's really fit."
Fehily was also full of praise for his mount, who had impressed in his last outing in Haydock's Betfair Chase last month.
"I think he's proved today what a very good horse he is, whatever the ground," he said. "He did it the hard way, he went a real good gallop and picked it up from the bend.
"I gave him a little breather on the bend and I knew when I gave him a squeeze he would pick up and it would take a good one to go past me."
|Paul Nicholls's King George VI Chase wins|
|Silviniaco Conti (2013, 2014)|
|Kauto Star (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011)|
|See More Business (1997, 1999)|