Silviniaco Conti is now the second favourite for the Grand National after bouncing back to Grade One-winning form in the Ascot Chase.
In a season which has so far been largely disappointing, the Paul Nicholls-trained gelding took his seventh, and most decisive victory, at the highest level in the fashion of a horse that still has plenty more to offer.
Racing alongside pacesetter Royal Regatta throughout the two-mile-five-furlong (4200m) contest, the 2-1 favourite moved past the Philip Hobbs-trained runner three fences from home with consummate ease.
The 10-year-old quickly put his assured stamina to good use, drawing clear over the final two fences to leave behind his lacklustre effort in this season’s King George VI Chase and post a 20-length victory over Dynaste.
Following the race, Silviniaco Conti firmed from 25-1 to 16-1 for the Grand National in April with Many Clouds the 11-1 favourite.
“I was mortified after the King George. I couldn’t believe how badly he ran,” Nicholls said.
“When he’s right he’s a very good horse. You have to be to win seven Grade Ones.
“The National is a definite possibility and I said to the lads that we will make the decision nearer the time. Arguably he is quite well in now.
“Neptune Collonges was the best horse I’ve run in the race (National) and I’ve always thought that Silviniaco Conti would follow him as they are by the same sire.”