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Published: 12:07 | 22/2/16

National target for Conti

Nicholls delighted with Ascot effort

Silviniaco Conti is to be aimed at the Crabbie's Grand National following his victory at Ascot on Saturday.

Connections had already decided against sending him to Prestbury Park for a fourth crack at the Cheltenham Gold Cup, preferring to concentrate on Aintree given his good record at the Merseyside venue, only for plans for the season to be thrown into doubt following a lacklustre run in the King George VI Chase on St Stephen's Day.

He was given a break to recover from a slight problem and he proved his wellbeing when landing the Betfair Ascot Chase by 20 lengths on Saturday, the seventh Grade One victory of his career.

Paul Nicholls was delighted with his effort at Ascot and has confirmed he will be aimed at the Grand National rather than the Betfair Bowl.

"Silviniaco Conti looked back to his best after a difficult season in which he has been plagued by sarcoids from the moment he came back into training in the summer," the Ditcheat handler told his website.

"The worst problem, under his elbow, was causing him discomfort and opened up at Haydock. That is why I struggled getting him to Kempton where he also gave a little sign of choking, so we had his palate re-cauterised, gave him a ten-day break to allow the sarcoids to heal and he has been a different horse in the last six weeks.

"Most important of all Conti has been pain free which has allowed me to step up his work at home. Going to Ascot I still felt he could do with another fortnight before I had him spot on, but you wouldn't have know it as, wearing blinkers for the first time, he jumped like his old self before stretching 20 lengths clear of Dynaste.

"He will not go to Cheltenham and is much more likely to run in the Crabbie's Grand National at Aintree rather than bid for a third win in the Bowl there.

"I am very tempted by the National and so is his jockey Noel Fehily. Conti is going to be well-in in the race now and when he is right, which he is now, he is a very good horse."

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