Ptit Zig jumped well as he saw off the challenge of Josses HillPICTURE: Mark Cranham (racingpost.com/photos)
Ptit Zig too good as Hill struggles on chase debut
Report: Ascot, Friday
Mitie Novices' Chase (Registered as The Noel Novices' Chase) (Grade 2) 2m3f, 4yo+
PTIT ZIG took advantage of a sloppy round of jumping from favourite Josses Hill, who had an unhappy introduction to chasing and finished a well-beaten runner-up.
Josses Hill, second in the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle last term, was well-backed to make a winning start over fences but he made one bad mistake and several untidy jumps whereas the more experienced Ptit Zig - a dual chase winner already - handled the obstacles with comparative ease.
Despite his blunders, which cost him considerable ground, Josses Hill managed to join Ptit Zig and the front-runner Dunraven Storm on the turn to home and briefly looked a threat before the winner took control and went nine lengths clear.
Ptit Zig's trainer Paul Nicholls said: "I was really impressed with his jumping, those first two runs haven't been lost on him and he quickened away in really good style up the straight.
"He's only a five-year-old and I really think he's a horse who can get much further in time, he could be a Gold Cup horse one day. At the moment I see him as a middle distance horse who could drop back to two mile for the Arkle but only if the ground came up testing.
"We might go for the two mile five furlong Dipper at Cheltenham next month and see where we are after that."
Paddy Power cut the winner to 8-1 (from 10) for the Racing Post Arkle and the JLT Novices' Chase. Betfred also installed him at 8-1 for the JLT Novices' Chase, and Coral are 8-1 both races.
Josses Hill was eased to 10-1 (from 8) for the Arkle by Paddy Power. His trainer Nicky Henderson said: "I'm very pleased with that, he's just learning and he needs more practice. He'll come on a lot for that, don't forget he was locked away for a month with a splint."