- Saturday’s race is significantly tougher than the one Pic D’Orhy won last year
- Harry Cobden-ridden nine-year-old won the 1965 Chase at Ascot in November
- Edwardstone is racing at two and a half miles over fences for the first time
Paul Nicholls is expecting a sharper performance from Pic D’Orhy at Kempton on Saturday afternoon when he attempts to win the Silviniaco Conti Chase for the second year running.
The Harry Cobden-ridden nine-year-old won the 1965 Chase at Ascot in November but what should have been a simple task after main rival Shishkin refused to race turned into a laboured effort against inferior rivals with his jumping lacking sharpness.
Saturday’s race is significantly tougher than the one Pic D’Orhy won last year with opposition headed by Alan King-trained Edwardstone, who is racing at two and a half miles over fences for the first time — something he appears to have been crying out for.
But Pic D’Orhy is two wins from two runs at a track that suits him.
Nicholls said: ‘The Ascot race was a bit of a non-event. He got the job done in the end and he idled a bit but he did not jump as well as he can. He is a big horse and he probably wants a little more in the ground now than he got that day (when the going description was good).
Trainer Paul Nicholls is expecting a sharper performance from Pic D’Orhy (above) at Kempton
‘He is in good shape and I’ve had this race in mind for him for a while. We know flat tracks like Kempton and Aintree suit him well but this is a stronger race than when he won it last year.’
Pic D’Orhy has an entry in Cheltenham’s Ryanair Chase but is unlikely to take that up. His more likely target is Aintree’s Marsh Chase — which he also won last season — via next month’s Betfair Ascot Chase.
But the Ryanair Chase will be very much in the sights of Edwardstone if he can prove himself at the new distance.
Joseph O’Brien’s Irish raider Banbridge, running for the first time since he won the Grade One Manifesto Novices’ Chase at Aintree in April, arguably sets the standard while Willie Mullins-trained Janadil is also a Grade One winner.
The line-up is completed by Laura Morgan-trained Notlongtillmay, runner-up to Nicholls-trained Stage Star in both the Turners Novices’ Chase at the 2023 Festival and the Paddy Power Gold Cup in November.