Paul Nicholls is counting on Rouge Vif to give him a third consecutive victory in the Coral Silviniaco Conti Chase at Kempton on Saturday.
The Ditcheat manager, who saddled Silviniaco Conti to win back-to-back King George renewals at the Sunbury site, has won the sophomore competition named in his honor for the past two years with Frodo and Master Tommytucker.
Master Tommytucker is in the game again, but he’s pretty much set to wait for the first Winter Million Chase at Lingfield on Sunday, leaving Bright Red to carry the Nicholls flag this weekend.
“I’ve put two in the Silviniaco Conti but looking at the forecast it’s going to be a dry week so the intention for now is to have Rouge Vif run in Kempton,” said the champion’s coach.
“I suspect we’ll be leaving Master Tommytucker for the new two-six-mile race at Lingfield the following weekend because he loves the proving ground.”
A seven-time winner for Harry Whittington, Rouge Vif finished last of four riders in his debut for Nicholls in the Shloer Chase at Cheltenham in November.
Nicholls added: “From what I’ve seen from Rouge Vif in Cheltenham he probably wants that kind of trip and a flat track like Kempton is probably the perfect place to try it.”
Gelino Bello appears as a leading contender for the team in the Coral Lanzarote Handicap Hurdle.
The six-year-old chased home Blazing Khal, coached by Charles Byrnes, in his last two starts at Cheltenham, most recently over three miles.
He has the option of staying in novice company at Saturday’s Ballymore Leamington Novices’ Hurdle at Warwick, but he’s pretty ready to step into the handicap arena at Kempton.
“Gelino Bello is in Lanzarote but he’s also in the second year novice at Warwick on the same day. We’ll be looking at the races as the week goes on, but I would say right now it’s in Lanzarote that he’s going to run, “said Nicholls.
“I think two thousand and five will suit him better. I’m not saying he doesn’t get three miles, like if you took the winner he would have won last time around.
“He’s got a lot of boots so this trip is probably fine enough for him.
“He’s a young horse who’s getting better and better. I think a return to a flatter track would suit him pretty well.”