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Friday, 14 December, 2018

Top Notch aiming to be top dog if track beats the snow

Top Notch - Nico de Boinville wins The Christy 1965 Chase ©
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2.30 Huntingdon
Betfred Peterborough Chase l Grade 2 l 2m4f l 4yo+ | RUK

A quarter of a century after the mighty Remittance Man strutted his stuff in Cambridgeshire, Nicky Henderson is back with another rising star in the shape of Top Notch, who has stablemate and last year's winner Josses Hill among five rivals in the likely absence of Tingle Creek fourth Charbel.

The penalised pair could not have finished much further apart when they clashed in the Grade 2 Christy 1965 Chase at Ascot last month, when eight-length race winner Top Notch finished 59 lengths in front of Josses Hill, who was last of six to finish.

Top Notch was taking his tally to five wins from eight races over fences that day, and among the reverses was an honourable second to Yorkhill in the JLT Novices' Chase at Cheltenham in March.

Anthony Bromley, racing manager to owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede, said: "This looks the obvious race for Top Notch after his win at Ascot but it may come a little quick for him as that was only 15 days ago.

"On the plus side, he's run well during a busy schedule before. He's a hardy horse and Nicky is very pleased with how he's come out of the race."

Huntingdon faces an inspection at 7am due to forecast cold temperatures, and Bromley added: "If the race is lost to the weather, I hope they reschedule it as there aren't many two-and-a-half-mile chases around. Warwick next Thursday would be a good option."

God given

Tom George won this in 2010 with Tartak and is back for more with the much travelled God's Own, whose only previous appearance at the track was when finishing third to My Tent Or Yours in a novice hurdle in 2013.

God's Own: doesn't have to carry a penalty

The journeyman bay usually operates at this trip these days but is without a win since the Grade 1 Champion Chase over two miles at Punchestown in April of last year.

God's Own is entitled to have come on for his comeback when sixth to Smad Place in the Old Roan Chase at Aintree in October.

George said: "He probably didn't run up to his best there but this is the first time in a long time he's running in a Graded chase without lumping a penalty.

"He likes going right-handed and two and a half miles is his trip these days so we're hopeful."

Zig back over fences

Paul Nicholls, who has won the Peterborough Chase only once, with Le Roi Miguel in 2004, saddles Ptit Zig. He was many people's fancy for the contest two years ago but capsized at the last when well beaten.

Favourite that day, the eight-year-old is back over fences for the first time since January 2016 after a decent spell over hurdles.

Ptit Zig: back over fences

Nicholls said: "We're switching him back to fences for the first time in a long while but he's been doing well over them at home.

"This is a good race but he's not easy to place these days. Hopefully he can run a tidy race."

Sire into the unknown

Sire De Grugy makes his first ever appearance at a track that should play to his strengths as it's all about speed.

The 2014 Champion Chase winner is the senior runner in the field at 11 years of age and is making only his third appearance of an injury-affected 2017 season.

The popular performer did not fare badly on his comeback when third in the Welsh Champion Hurdle but was last of eight on his return to fences at Ascot last time.

Sire De Grugy: the old-timer in the field

Trainer Gary Moore said: "He seems to be in the best form we've had him this year at home but we're on a fact-finding mission as regards the trip, which he's never won over.

"The track should suit him and we're hopeful he can step up on what he's shown lately."

Better luck for Lough?

Kylemore Lough finished in front of God's Own and Josses Hill when fourth in the Grade 1 Melling Chase at Aintree on his penultimate start but disappointed when pulled up as favourite for the BetVictor Gold Cup at Cheltenham last month on his first start for Harry Fry.

Kylemore Lough: second start for Harry Fry

Connections will be hoping for much better and, on Saturday, Kylemore Lough was around a 10-1 shot, the market headed by Top Notch at evens.

Conditions check

Frost sheets were down at the track on Saturday, when clerk of the course Jack Pryor reported: "It depends which forecast you look at but we could get up to 4cm of snow, or it may fall as sleet. We'll probably have a second inspection later in the morning."

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He's a hardy horse and Nicky is very pleased with how he's come out of the race
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