Nicky Henderson won the Peterborough Chase for the fifth time last year with Josses Hill, who produced a high-class effort to beat Tea For Two by six lengths. He was unable to build on that success later in the season, though, coming up short at Grade 1 level on his next three starts before disappointing in the Grade 2 Oaksey Chase at Sandown on his final start in 2016/17. He looked in need of the run on his return from seven months off at Ascot two weeks ago, his general rustiness apparent as he was ultimately well held by his stablemate and impressive winner Top Notch. Josses Hill is entitled to come on for that and it’s likely that defending his crown in this race has been the main aim.
Top Notch quickly put his disappointing return over hurdles behind him when winning the aforementioned Ascot race on his return to fences, proving better than ever in fact, scoring by eight lengths from a solid yardstick. It was a complete performance by Top Notch, and he is rightly the current favourite for this race. He does also hold an entry in the Many Clouds Chase at Aintree on Saturday, but Anthony Bromley – racing manger to owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede – has suggested that this race is the likely short-term target, but muted 15 days from his last win is a rather quick turnaround. However, it’s worth noting that Top Notch was backed up quickly around this time last season when racking up a sequence.
"If you had a poll of the most popular horse in the place, he would win. Everybody loves him. He would die for you."— Racing UK (@Racing_UK) November 25, 2017
Top Notch also in #KingGeorge frame after thumping Ascot win.
Replay and reaction ▶️ https://t.co/YwQemCa2d7 pic.twitter.com/30W08WsbBx
Tom George won this race with Tartak in 2010 – when it took place at Newbury due to a frozen track – and his sole entry for this year’s renewal comes in the shape of the ultra-consistent God’s Own. He may have only won four times over fences since making his debut in this sphere in December 2013, but he is often kept to Grade 1 company, and rarely disappoints. He shaped better than the distance beaten suggests after six months off when finishing mid-field in the Old Roan Chase last time, travelling better than most and having every chance until a lack of fitness seemingly told. The pick of his form makes him a leading player here, and he should be suited by the emphasis on speed that this track provides.
Cloudy Dream was a rather unfortunate loser in the Old Roan Chase on his return and, having missed his intended target of the BetVictor Gold Cup due to an entries mix-up, he ran respectably in the Shloer Chase last time. He was no match for the top-class Fox Norton that day – who is a general second favourite for the Tingle Creek – but the rain softened ground did seem to blunt Cloudy Dream’s strong-travelling style, and the step back up in trip is in his favour here. Whether or not he’ll be seen to best effect in a race of this nature remains to be seen, as this will likely cut up into a single-figure field, and Cloudy Dream still leaves the impression he will be best suited by a well-run, big-field handicap. He holds an entry for the Many Clouds Chase at Aintree, too.
Kim Bailey has suggested that Charbel is more than likely to run here rather than in the Tingle Creek at Sandown on Saturday ahead of his return to fences. He is another who looked in need of his reappearance over hurdles at Wincanton last month, but was a smart novice chaser last season, so can be expected to give a good account if taking his chance.
Perhaps surprisingly, Paul Nicholls has only won this race once, in 2004 with Le Roi Miguel. He has entered both Ptit Zig – who fell in this race when sent off the 13/8-favourite in 2015 – and San Benedeto this time round. The latter won six times in his novice season over fences in 2016/17 and as a result is proving hard to place this season, but he’s run three solid races so far. However, he’s likely to prove vulnerable in this company. Ptit Zig, on the other hand, hasn’t run over fences since January 2016, his jumping often letting him down in this sphere, and he has shown signs of temperament lately.
Of the others, Ar Mad is likely to head to the Tingle Creek, whereas Gary Moore’s other entries Sire de Grugy and Traffic Fluide both need to bounce back from a poor runs last time, but have the ability to be involved. Ballyoisin is a potential Irish raider, but he also has the option of the Hilly Way at Cork this weekend, while Kylemore Lough was well backed on his first start for Harry Fry in the BetVictor Gold Cup at Cheltenham last time, where a serious mistake scuppered his chances. Long House Hall, who was last seen winning a listed event over fences at Market Rasen in July 2016 by eight lengths, could make his belated return. He remains lightly raced for a nine-year-old, and has gone well fresh in the past, but this will be a tough ask after such a long lay-off.
On paper this looks an interesting race, and Top Notch looks a worthy favourite given his impressive win at Ascot last time, but he may find it hard to give away 6 lb to the likes of God’s Own here. Tom George’s nine-year-old is a top-class chaser at his best and seems sure to strip fitter for his recent return at Aintree, so at the current prices, he makes more appeal than Nicky Henderson’s progressive chaser.
Recommended bet: Back God's Own for Sunday's Peterborough Chase at 11/2