Peterborough Chase Preview: Top Notch a cut above

The Grade 2 Peterborough Chase – originally part of last Sunday’s abandoned card at Huntingdon - will now take place at Taunton on Thursday.

Peterborough Chase Preview: Top Notch a cut above

The Grade 2 Peterborough Chase – originally part of last Sunday’s abandoned card at Huntingdon - will now take place at Taunton on Thursday.

Top Notch
Top Notch Picture:Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Despite double-figure entries, which included Cue Card, the race has cut up significantly and in spite of the race being reopened on Wednesday morning, only five horses are set to go to post.

Well-named contender

Top Notch Horseform was the market leader for the original race on Sunday and he is again a short-priced favourite here. He was below form on his return from seven months off back over hurdles at Aintree in November, beaten three lengths by Unowhatimeanharry, but he proved better than ever when winning back over fences in the 1965 Chase at Ascot last time.

Top Notch tanked through the race, and impressively put the contest to bed, quickening clear two out to beat a solid yardstick in Double Shuffle by eight lengths. That win can act as a springboard for Top Notch, perhaps propelling him on to even bigger and better things, such as the King George at Kempton on Boxing Day – though he has his stamina to prove at three miles and isn’t guaranteed to stay on pedigree – but in the shorter term, he will be very hard to beat here.

Over the Hill?

Top Notch’s trainer Nicky Henderson won this race last year with Josses Hill, who is back to defend his crown. He made a promising start to last season, winning a graduation chase at Kempton before taking this race, but he failed to make an impact in stronger races on his next four starts in 2016/17.

Josses Hill shaped as though he’d come on for his reappearance when ultimately well held behind Top Notch at Ascot last time, his general rustiness apparent, but he is entitled to strip fitter for that run. The switch to Taunton shouldn’t hinder him, still a right-handed track with relatively easy fences, but the casualty rate on the chase course is surprisingly high, which is slightly concerning given the inconsistency in his jumping.

No Nicholls domination

Perhaps surprisingly, Paul Nicholls has only won this race once, in 2004 with Le Roi Miguel. Ptit Zig Horseform fell at the last (two lengths down) when sent off the 13/8-favourite for this race in 2015 and he hasn’t run over fences since January 2016. His jumping often let him down in this sphere, and he isn’t the most reliable, but there is no denying he has plenty of ability when on a going day, and it is interesting that Nicholls has decided to send him back over the larger obstacles. On the pick of his form, he could be the main danger to Top Notch.

Tom George was originally aiming God’s Own at this race, but since it has been rerouted to Taunton, Max Ward has taken his place. A winner of a maiden hurdle here in 2014, Max War won twice as a novice chaser in 2016/17, but was well held on his return in a handicap chase at Ascot last month. Max Ward could be hard to place this season, seemingly too high in the handicap yet not quite up to graded level, and it will demand a clear career best for him to take a hand here.

The field is completed by Vaniteux, who was a very smart chaser at best for Nicky Henderson, but has failed to fire in a trio of starts for new connections following his £125,000 switch to David Pipe in May. On recent form, at least, he is very hard to fancy here, and it doesn’t take much persuading to look elsewhere.


Top Notch is the clear one to beat – both on weight-adjusted ratings and form - however there isn’t much juice in his price. Last year’s winner Josses Hill should fare better with a more positive ride than he received on his reappearance, however the value could lie with backing Ptit Zig in the “betting without the favourite” market.


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