Belfast Telegraph

Silviniaco pace can stop Bobs Worth joining elite list

By Robert Fenton

What if? – it is the number one question in most aspects of life, not least in the theatre of big-time racing.

And that was asked at the end of last year's Cheltenham Gold Cup won by Ulster-bred Bobs Worth.

Would he have beaten Silviniaco Conti if the latter had not tipped up three out when looking a winner?

Today's renewal provides the opportunity to put that question to bed once and for all.

Silviniaco, a solid winner of Boxing Day's King George, isn't a resolute stayer like the golden champion who loves the Cheltenham hill and bids to join a hallowed gallery of back-to-back winners.

The fact that such an elite list is limited, proves how difficult it is to achieve.

Bobs Worth is a top-notch chaser but it takes great one to win more than one Gold Cup. He's a worthy favourite and with the big doubts over the Irish challenge – First Lieutenant doesn't stay and Last Instalment would need more cut in the ground – it looks a contest between him and Conti.

The current faster terrain should suit Silviniaco better and that King George triumph in which he turned around his defeat by Cue Card in Haydock's Betfair Chase – Bobs Worth was only sixth – was the perfect preparation for this, while Bobs Worth won Leopardstown's Lexus from what looked at one point, an impossible position, proving once again that stamina is very much his forte.

A fascinating clash and one that's likely to be decided by how Conti handles the downhill third last fence.

If he's still standing, then he can outpace his chief rival and see the famous trophy back in Nicholls' hands.

An intriguing contest is in prospect.

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