Paul Nicholls is not concerned about the Crabbies Grand National trip for Silviniaco Conti at Aintree on Saturday. The 10-year-old is 10-1 second-favourite with Sky Bet for the race over the extended four-mile-two-furlong course in Liverpool, fully a mile further than the Dom Alco gelding has ever raced.However, the seven-time Grade One winner certainly has the class and hes well-handicapped too, officially 6lb well-in following his latest top-level win at Ascot that was achieved after the National weights were released. With the ground set to be perfectly acceptable for him whatever the weather does over the next five days, the major question mark hanging over him is the trip - but his trainer is confident hell stay.From the day I had him in the young days hes always been a stayer, Nicholls told At The Races.Hes by Dom Alco, like Neptune Collonges and theyre all stayers.Throughout his career in the Betfred Bowls, the King Georges weve always wanted to make plenty of use of him and make every post a winning post as staminas his forte, always has been.With the distance not a concern to Nicholls, what about the fences? Silviniaco Conti has never run over the Aintree spruce, but his handler has tried to prepare him for the experience the best he can.Nicholls continued: We put some spruce on our fences here and he jumped them with Unioniste the other morning when Noel [Fehily] was very happy with him.You need an awful lot of luck in the National but of course were excited by his chance.Silviniaco Conti isnt Nicholls only chance in this years National, with Unioniste, Just A Par, Wonderful Charm and Rocky Creek also set to run from the Ditcheat yard.Unioniste appears to be heading that list for owner John Hales, who won the race in 2012 with Neptune Collonges, another grey son of Dom Alco also trained by Nicholls.Last year Unioniste fell in the National, but hes come down the handicap since and ran well behind Many Clouds at Kelso last time.Nicholls said: Last year he probably wasnt quite right, he lost his confidence jumping but hes got that back and he ran very well at Kelso behind Many Clouds where he stayed on.He is in the mould of Neptune Collonges and if he is anywhere near them jumping the third last hell gallop all the way to the line, hes got a chance.As for the rest of his team, Nicholls was upbeat about the chances of Just A Par, but less so Rocky Creek who has been well beaten on his last three starts.He ran his best race first time up behind Don Cossack but he has been disappointing since, said Nicholls of Rocky Creek.Id be more sweet on the chances of Just A Par and even Wonderful Charm.I havent run Just A Par all winter because of the ground and that last run at Exeter was just what he needed.Last year before he won the bet365 Gold Cup he had the same prep at Chepstow three weeks beforehand and hes in good shape.Hes got the right profile and he stays. If he can get into a good rhythm and jump hell give Sean [Bowen] a great ride.Paul Nicholls is 9/2 to train the Grand National winner with Sky Bet. Click here for all of Sky Bets Grand National specials. Also See: Live results service Full racecards ￡10 free bet Get Sky Sports Marcus Stroman Jersey
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. "Theyve both been real good," said Babcock. "Havent changed our minds." A decision has seemingly been made - Sundays Group B-deciding tilt against Finland ahead - but it could not have been an easy one. Price opened the tournament with a sturdy 19-save performance against the Norwegians, yielding just one goal.OTTAWA -- Ottawa Senators general manager Bryan Murray believes his team is poised to become a competitive force in the Eastern Conference and hes willing to make the moves to ensure that happens. He reflected on the lockout-shortened campaign at a season-ending news conference Tuesday and said while he was pleased with the teams overall success, he did have one regret. "The only disappointing part of the whole year was that we could never find out how good we really were," Murray said. The Senators finished seventh in the Eastern Conference despite a rash of devastating injuries to key players and advanced to the second round of the playoffs before losing to the Pittsburgh Penguins in five games. The second-round loss magnified some of the teams needs and Murray plans on addressing them during the off-season. "We need to score more goals," said Murray. "We have to find a way to create a little more offence and that may mean trying to find a player out there that will do that. "But part of it also will be counting on a couple of the younger players that showed they can play in the league to step up and do a little more with the puck than they were capable of or able to do this year." Murray added he would consider packaging some of those young prospects in order to find the right player. "At this stage of our development we certainly want the growth to continue," he said. "We have a good number of young players, first- and second-year pros that we think will improve and make our team more competitive as we go forward. "If theres a deal to be made at some point during the summer I have to take a hard look at it. If it means doing a couple of things, trading a young player or two Ive got to be open-minded to do that to try to make this team better." The 70-year-old GM said he had already made decisions regarding unrestricted free agents Mike Lundin, Peter Regin and Guillaume Latendresse, but wanted to speak to them first before announcing his intentions. Much the same can be said for 39-year-old Sergei Gonchar, who told reporters he would like to remain in Ottawa. However, it seems unlikely he will be re-signed. "To be fair to him and every other free agent its proper to talk to him and his agent and decide what we want to do or at least let them know what we want to do before I announce it here," Murray said. Meanwhile, head coach Paul MacLean is entering the final year of his three-year contract. It appears Murray would prefer dealing with a new contract sooner rather than later. "Its one of the topics I have on my agenda as we go forward with the coaching staff," said Murray. "Its a conversation we have to have.dddddddddddd" Murray is also entering the final year of his deal. He said its too early to make any decisions regarding his long-term future with the club. "Let me have a conversation with my wife first," Murray said with a smile. "I dont have any kids at home that I worry about anymore, but well see about that. Its not a topic Im even interested in going to at this point and time." For the second straight year, MacLean has been named a finalist for the Jack Adams Trophy. Hes already looking forward to next season. "Were tremendously pleased with where we are in the process of becoming good," said MacLean. "Im looking forward to (training camp) right now because we actually have some decisions to make and some hard ones. "Thats a good sign for our team and the growth of our team and the process that were in. I look forward to it and Im excited about it already." In addition to being excited, MacLean said hes fearful. "Im scared to death, Im sweating already," he said. "Its going to be very hard. Success for me breeds fear. Im scared, really scared, but for me thats a comfort because Ive dealt with things that way for a long time and it motivates me to make sure Im prepared." While MacLean was impressed with the play of a number of players, he did single out the work of Kyle Turris and Zack Smith. MacLean felt they really raised their game after the injury to Jason Spezza. And while the Senators called up a number of players from AHL Binghamton over the season, MacLean said he was most pleasantly surprised by Eric Gryba and Jean-Gabriel Pageau. "Those were two players that we knew who they were and what they could do, but we never expected that they would be playing on our roster in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs or the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs," said MacLean. "Neither one of them was on the list to come to training camp a for me those two players had some tremendous growth." As for Daniel Alfredssons future with the organization, Murray said he wanted to give the 40-year-old captain time to ponder his decision and speak with his family before addressing the issue of his return. "I should, as the manager, allow him to step back for a little bit of time and address that with his family and any concerns he might have about trying to play again," Murray said. "At the right time I know hell come to me and suggest one way or the other what hes hoping to do." Murray admitted the ideal situation would be knowing Alfredssons status prior to July 5 when free agency begins. 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