The Peterborough Chase is the biggest race of the year at Huntingdon, and is often used as a trial for the King George at Kempton which is over half-a-mile further. Henrietta Knight has farmed the race in recent years, winning five of the last ten renewals with the likes of Edredon Bleu, Best Mate, and more recently with the fragile, but talented Racing Demon.
This year she is represented by the strapping bay gelding Somersby, who has been a model of consistency in recent seasons, making the frame in a number of top races, but he is yet to add a Group One to his CV. He started his campaign this season with an easy victory at Kempton at around today’s trip, but he was easily brushed aside by Master Minded in the Amlin Chase at Ascot last time.
Paul Nicholls last won the race in 2004 with Le Roi Miguel, and this year he is represented by The Nightingale. The son of Cadoudal is very lightly raced considering his age after only having twelve career starts, and he has already shown a preference for right-handed tracks, with his four of his five victories coming at Down Royal, Kempton, Taunton and Wincanton. That bodes well for him round here, and the return to this trip should help, after shaping as a non-stayer at Down Royal last time. He has the highest-rating in the field, and he should be on the premises.
Tchico Polos was a very smart performer for Paul Nicholls in 2009 and 2010, winning some nice novice chases before beating dual Tingle Creek winner Twist Magic in the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter. However he has lost his way since then, and didn’t show a great deal for his new yard on debut.
Another horse who has lost his way in 2011 is Tom George’s Tartak, who hasn’t hit the frame in 2011 since winning a big handicap at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day. After disappointing efforts at Ascot, Cheltenham and Aintree he was sent on his travels to France in May and late November where he once again disappointed finishing midfield on both occasions. Although he has the ability to get involved, you couldn’t fancy him after his recent efforts.
Gauvain is the oldest horse in the race, and is returning very quickly after falling when still going well in the Tingle Creek at the weekend. Prior to that he had made a winning return in a conditions event at Cheltenham over two miles, but he does seem better suited by further than that now after finishing second to Riverside Theatre in the Betfair Ascot Chase last season. He departed early on the Tingle Creek, so it would be hard to say how he would have fared, but this track and trip should be ideal, so he should go well providing he has fully recovered.
The youngest horse in the race is Nicky Henderson’s Surfing, who came over from France last season with a big reputation, but he disappointed in novice chases behind Ghizao and Tail Of The Bank, so it’s very interesting his trainer chooses to pitch him in here.
Mr Moonshine has made rapid progress since returning to the larger obstacles this season, winning both of his starts in authoritative fashion at around this trip. He is still a novice despite trying the chasing game last season, so this is a strange target with races like the Feltham up and coming over the Christmas period. Hidden Keel was one of the Mr Moonshine’s victims earlier in the season, so it’s hard to see him getting the better of that rival, let alone the others.
In what looks a competitive renewal it will be hard for The Nightingale and Tartak to concede upwards of 4lb’s to the remainder of the field. This hands the advantage over to Somersby from a handicapping perspective, who is the selection given his trainers record over the improving Mr Moonshine who has any amount of improvement left in him.