Rainbow proves a warrior in battle of trainers

Aintree

Success in the big one today would settle the trainers' title on the spot, but yesterday both protagonists traded decent blows. Finian's Rainbow opened up new horizons for Nicky Henderson with a breezy success over two and a half miles in the Melling Chase, and it is by no means impossible that he could end up meeting Silviniaco Conti, winner of the big novice chase for Paul Nicholls, over the even longer King George trip at Kempton next Christmas.

Finian's Rainbow won the two-mile title at Cheltenham last month but he is much more settled than previously nowadays and, at least round this sharp track, was always going better than a back-to-form Wishfull Thinking. Albertas Run folded with uncharacteristic meekness in third.

"As a novice, he was always trying to do everything in a terrible rush," Henderson said of the winner. "But he grew up last summer and for some reason became a sensible person. This season he has been much more amenable, doing everything as he should rather than as quickly as possible. We've got all summer to think about what route to take next season, but he goes to bed with all the medals."

Having sat out the Festival, Silviniaco Conti readily saw off Champion Court, who had a hard race there, by 13 lengths. "He's maturing all the time," Nicholls said. "We'll have to aim for the King George next season, because a flat track really suits him."

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