Sir Des Champs takes trial with ease

Mullins gelding jumps into reckoning for Cheltenham Gold Cup as Silviniaco Conti also impresses

As far as the Cheltenham Gold Cup is concerned, all the pieces of the jigsaw are now face up on the table, though how they will fit next month to produce the picture on the box is still anyone's guess. Bobs Worth, who has not raced since November and will not do so again before the big day, maintained his position as favourite yesterday without stirring from his cosy stable.

But the eight-year-old is now being increasingly closely challenged in the market by Sir Des Champs and Silviniaco Conti, who did emerge into the afternoon's damp, muddy chill to take the last recognised trials for the chasing crown.

Of the two efforts, bookmakers preferred the performance of Sir Des Champs, winner of the Hennessy Gold Cup at Leopardstown. After his defeat of the odds-on Flemensfirth in the three-miler, the Willie Mullins-trained gelding is judged as short as a 7-2 shot – to Bobs Worth's 3-1 – to take the Cheltenham prize back to Ireland. Silviniaco Conti, from the Paul Nicholls yard, is now generally 5-1, having readily disposed of The Giant Bolster in the Denman Chase at Newbury.

The Leopardstown result finally put paid to the Gold Cup aspirations of Flemenstar, who once again failed to see out the distance after a threatening move two fences from home.

Sir Des Champs, however, given a lead by stablemate Quel Esprit for much of a contest run steadily in the early stages, stayed on strongly through the closing stages to win by a length and three- quarters, with his rider, Davy Russell, pumping his fist in delight.

"He [Russell] did just the right thing in stepping up the pace four out," said Mullins. "He knew Flemenstar was going well just behind him and wanted to make it a real staying test from there. And the horse is going to be suited by a stronger pace all the way, and by better ground."

Silviniaco Conti, who strutted his stuff an hour before Sir Des Champs, briefly held second spot in the betting after his ruthlessly professional display under Ruby Walsh. The Denman Chase, another over two furlongs short of the Gold Cup distance, was notable for the exuberant display in front from Mail de Bievre, having his first run for more than two years and his first since joining Tom George.

Only The Giant Bolster, Silviniaco Conti and Menorah could keep in touch, with the first two named passing him in the air three out as he tired. From there, Silviniaco Conti, on whom Walsh had ridden a patiently perfect race, pressed on in testing conditions to extend his advantage to seven lengths. "He's a gem," said the rider. "He's very sure of what he's doing over a fence and he's got plenty of scope. And he's done that well for a horse short of full fitness."

Nicholls was equally delighted. "Proper job," he said. "He's not the quickest, but he's a true stayer, a sound jumper and he's improving. I've left a bit to work on physically as he's had just the one real target, and that's next month."

As well as Gold Cup pointers, the afternoon brought a sense of justice. On Monday, the death in action of the exciting young hurdling talent Darlan had been a huge blow to the stable that houses Bobs Worth, that of Nicky Henderson, as well as the ill-fated horse's owner, JP McManus, and rider, Tony McCoy. But yesterday there was compensation for the three men with My Tent Or Yours, who turned the Betfair Hurdle, one of the most competitive handicaps, into a five-length rout as the 5-1 favourite.

"If there's one good thing I've done this season," said an emotional McCoy," it was to get the boss [McManus] to buy this horse." The six-year-old is now 7-4 favourite for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle, the Festival opener four weeks on Tuesday.

Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Diana from the Great British Bake Off 2014
tvProducers confirm contestant left because of illness
News
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie reportedly married in secret on Saturday
peopleSpokesperson for couple confirms they tied the knot on Saturday after almost a decade together
Life and Style
Chen Mao recovers in BK Hospital, Seoul
health
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Client-Side web developer (JQuery, Javascript, UI, JMX, FIX)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Client-Side web developer (JQuery, Javascript, U...

Structured Finance

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - An excellent new instruction w...

SQL Server Developer

£500 per day: Harrington Starr: SQL Server Developer SQL, PHP, C#, Real Time,...

C#.NET Developer

£600 per day: Harrington Starr: C#.NET Developer C#, Win Forms, WPF, WCF, MVVM...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff