Nicholls big guns primed
Paul Nicholls outlined running plans for Silviniaco Conti and Al Ferof on Sky Sports News on Monday morning.
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The former won the Betfair Chase at Haydock last year and is heading back to defend his title while Paddy Power Gold Cup winner Al Ferof is on target to run at Ascot in the Amlin 1965 Chase.
The grey has not been seen since his success at Cheltenham a year ago and has the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day as his first major target of the campaign.
Nicholls told Sky Sports News: "He was at home with the Hales family (owners) through the summer and they did a great job with him.
"He had a racecourse gallop on Sunday and went very nicely. He's set to make his debut at Ascot and hopefully it'll be a stepping stone to the King George."
Silviniaco Conti was in tremendous form in the first half of last season, winning the Charlie Hall, the Betfair and the Denman Chase.
The seven-year-old was still travelling powerfully in the Gold Cup when he fell three from home, after which he ran a slightly lacklustre race at Aintree.
"He did really well last year and was still travelling well in the Gold Cup when he fell," said Nicholls. He's only seven and is entitled to improve this year. His work has been good and he's ready to go to Haydock."