Silviniaco Conti As Short As 8/1 For Champion Hurdle After " Astounding " Trainer.

William Hill

Tagged under: 3.20 Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup Steeple Chase 3m 2 1/2f

Imperial Commander, Master Minded, and Silviniaco Conti all produced performances on Saturday that saw their odds shorten for several Festival races.

Gold Cup winner Imperial Commander got his season off to a winning start with a professional display in the Betfair Chase at Haydock, resulting in bookmakers cutting his odds for the championship event to a top price 9/2 with William Hill.

Totesport probably over-reacted in shortening the 9 year-old to 100/30, as Paddy Brennan's mount simply handled the conditions better than the opposition, and in beating the temperamental Tidal Bay ( tailed off at one stage ) by 1 1/4 length the gelding did little more than show his wellbeing.

Master Minded, once rated higher than both Kauto Star and Denman, had his problems last season, but looked as good as ever when sauntering home in Ascot's Amlin 1965 Chase, after chief rival Albertas Run crashed out at the third-last.

Described by jockey Noel Fehily as " an aeroplane " and " a consummate professional " the gelding has now overtaken Big Zeb as favourite for the 2011 Queen Mother Champion Chase at a best price 3/1, although several firms ( including Ladbrokes and Coral ) were impressed enough to quote odds no bigger than 5/2.

The other significant performance of the weekend came from Paul Nicholl's French import Silviniaco Conti, who " astounded " his trainer with an impressive victory in Ascot's Coral Hurdle.

By beating two thorough stayers in Karabak and Restless Harry by seven length, the 4 year-old confirmed his limitless potential, and earned quotes as short as 8/1 for the Champion Hurdle in March.

With several bookmakers also quoting odds for the World Hurdle ( a ludicrous 7/2 with totesport ), it could be some time before the horses' Festival target is decided.

While the son of Dom Alco is undoubtedly very talented, the Champion Hurdle may not be the wisest of moves at this stage, and unless something happens to Big Bucks, the World Hurdle seems unlikely.

With the horse likely to be rested until the spring, a trip to Aintree for the 2m 4f hurdle, appears the most probable long range target.

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