Paul Nicholls has confirmed Silviniaco Conti will run in the Grade One Betfair Ascot Chase at Ascot on Saturday 20th February.
The Somerset trainer, who hosted a media stable visit on Tuesday 9th February organised by Betfair in conjunction with Newbury & Ascot Racecourses, also confirmed Dodging Bullets will make his seasonal return in the Grade Two Betfair Exchange Chase at Newbury on Saturday 13th February.
"Silviniaco Conti is going to run in the Betfair Ascot Chase a week on Saturday which is a little bit of a change in plan,” confirmed Nicholls.
"He is not in the Gold Cup, rather the World Hurdle at Cheltenham, though I am not that keen to run him in that.
"He has been entered in the Grand National, though that is a tentative entry this year. More than likely, he will run in the Bowl Chase at Aintree, which he has won for the past two years, again and then onto Punchestown.
"He would probably be aimed at the National 12 months on but the plan is not set in stone. We will see what weight he gets for the National and see whether we are tempted to run this year.
"He has had a bit of a stop start season. He has had problems with sarcoids, especially the one under his near-side foreleg. It has been a nightmare - he split open this sarcoid when racing at Haydock and for a week or two afterwards he was really, really sore. He did not run as well at Kempton as he normally does and I suspect it was because of that.
"Ever since then, we have concentrated on healing the sarcoid and he has not problems with it now. For the first time this season, I am happy with him and he is not in any pain. Hopefully, we will have a great spring with him. There are not many races he can run in. The Ascot race is a Grade One and while two miles, five furlongs and a bit is short for him, with the ground as it is, you will need a stayer. He had a racecourse gallop last week at Wincanton and went nicely."
Nicholls has twice tasted success in the Betfair Ascot Chase with Rockforce in 2000 and Kauto Star in 2008.
Tickets for the February showpiece are available from £23 in advance.For more information and to book tickets please click here