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orse alk
Nicholls' Haydock domination could continue with Conti
Haydock's Betfair Chase has been something of a benefit for Paul Nicholls since its inception in 2005.

The Ditcheat handler has mopped up the race six times in ten years. That feat is of course largely down to the magnificence of one Kauto Star, who is a four-time winner of the race.

The three-mile Grade One took its place as one of the early season prizes of note largely down to its status as the first leg of the Million Bonus.

It in its prime, this was a race that really signalled the beginning of the season in earnest for the Nicholls team and, with the announcement that the £1m Triple Crown is back in play, the Haydock contest is already generating plenty of interest.

Two of the early market principles have been Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Coneygree and the Nicholls-trained Silviniaco Conti, twice a winner already.

Given that the Bradstock team have signalled that their first choice is a tilt at the Hennessey Gold Cup, the odds of 3.50 at the time of writing with betfair and other bookmakers available on Silviniaco Conti winning at Haydock for the third time in four years could look very generous come post time.

His only defeat in three starts at the Liverpool venue came at the hands of Cue Card in 2013, a race for which Nicholls may have undercooked his runner slightly.

The following month, Silviniaco Conti turned that form around in resounding fashion when taking the King George VI Chase at Kempton.

Last season, he won at Haydock and Kempton with real authority before once more failing to produce his best form at Cheltenham in March.

For one reason or another, Silviniaco Conti is ill at ease in the Cotswolds and that is something which Nicholls has been forced to admit.

On flat tracks such as Haydock, Kempton and Aintree, however, he has proved himself to be a staying chaser almost without compare over the last two seasons.

The re-introduction of the Triple Crown bonus may struggle to whet the appetite of Nicholls given Silviniaco Conti's career figures of 3-F-4-7 at Prestbury Park but he already appears like a standout contender to land a third Chase at Haydock and continue his trainer's remarkable record in the race.
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