Conti eyes Grand test; WIN SETS UP NATIONAL BID.
YESTERDAY'S ACTION SILVINIACO CONTI is on course for the Grand National after a stunning Betfair Ascot Chase win.
Paul Nicholls' 10-year-old bounced back to something like his best to win by 12 lengths from second favourite Dynaste.
Dogged by problems and below his best in the first half of the season, he was fitted with blinkers for the first time as he dropped back in trip to two miles and five furlongs.
And the 2-1 favourite placed his desperate festive King George flop behind him, to the delight of trainer Nicholls.
"I was mortified after the King George, I couldn't believe how badly he ran," he admitted.
"He was pain free today, blinkers were the right thing, the ground was right and he was back to his best.
"When he's right he's a very good horse, you have to be to win seven Grade Ones.
He has always been classy, but we've struggled with him all season."
Nicholls ruled Conti out of a tilt at the Cheltenham Festival next month and will send him to Aintree in April instead: "He won't run in the World Hurdle, it will either be the National or the Bowl that he's won for the past few years."
Paddy Power cut the winner to 20-1 from 33's for the Grand National.
Jockey Noel Fehily said: "It's great to get him back, well done to Paul and his team, a great training performance.
"The blinkers didn't do any harm, he jumped much better today, certainly better than at Haydock."
Dynaste also showed more than he has of late, staying on to snatch second from Royal Regatta.
Just three made it home in the Grade 3 Betfred Grand National Trial at Haydock, with 13-2 shot Bishops Road snatching the win.
The Kerry Lee-trained eight-year-old completed a double for champion jockey Richard Johnson.
HEAD START: Silviniaco Conti was rejuvenated by blinkers in the Ascot Chase