Peterborough Chase Tips: Dolos looks the bet for Nicholls

Peterborough Chase Tips: You have to go back to 2004 to find the last time Paul Nicholls won this Grade 2 contest.
Peterborough Chase Tips: You have to go back to 2004 to find the last time Paul Nicholls won this Grade 2 contest.

Nick Seddon previews Sunday’s Grade 2 Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon, as Top Notch bids for a third win in the race in four years for the Nicky Henderson team…

Run over two and a half miles, the Peterborough Chase regularly features some smart horses, and the winner generally goes on to be a key player in the following year’s Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

It is a race that is often defined by a low turnout, and you have to go back to 2008 to find the last time that a double-figure field took their chance. However, it is rarely short on quality, and this year’s nine-strong line-up is about as competitive a renewal as you’ll find so far this century.

There are a mix of profiles on offer this year, but it feels pertinent to begin with the admirable Top Notch, who is a 9/2 joint-second favourite at the time of writing, and is bidding for his third win in the race in four years. Although he has one Grade 1 victory to his name as a novice in 2016-17, the nine-year-old is something of a ‘bottom-topper’ in this sphere, in that he regularly falls just short at the highest level.

He’s an effective performer at Grade 2 level, however, picking up four wins which include successes in this race in 2017 (held at Taunton) and 2019. He has to shoulder a penalty here by virtue of the latter of those, but his claims are very difficult to knock and he’ll be a big threat if up to scratch on reappearance. However, it’s worth noting that he has tended to need his first outing during his career, and is passed over at the prices as a consequence.

Cheltenham Festival Races

Three more with plenty of experience at this level are Bun Doran, Nuts Well and Forest Bihan. The last-named hasn’t won as much as his talent has perhaps warranted during his career so far, but he’s a highly capable performer on his day, as he showed when winning the Grade 2 Old Roan Chase at Aintree in 2019. He’d be one to consider if in a similar mood, but we’ve seen him just once since - over hurdles at Haydock last month - and he’s best watched having struggled on that occasion.

Nuts Well arrives here in much better heart, and having completed a hat-trick at Wetherby at the beginning of February, he’s returned with back-to-back wins so far this term, with the latest coming in the Old Roan in October. It’s been a remarkable last 12 months or so for Nuts Well, which has seen him improve 25 lb in the handicap, and although Ann Hamilton could quite feasibly squeeze more improvement out of him yet, he would likely need to find more to take this.

Meanwhile, Bun Doran recorded a career-best effort when winning the Grade 2 Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton last season, but he’s struggled since, and this looks no easier under a 6 lb penalty for that success. Another with plenty on his plate is Glen Forsa, who is a smart performer on his day, but has completed just once in his last four outings, and was soon beaten on reappearance in last month's Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter. 

Cheltenham Gold Cup

The betting market is an open one at the time of writing, and three of the main protagonists are Mister Fisher, Al Dancer and Fanion D'Estruval. The last-named is the current 4/1 favourite for Venetia Williams, who's made just three starts on these shores since switching to the yard from France. The five-year-old looked a horse to follow when winning a novices' handicap in impressive style on British debut last November, but struggled on his only other start last term, finishing fifth at this level at Kempton. He got back on track when second in a competitive handicap at Cheltenham last month, however, and he can't be dicsounted with the possibility of more to come from him yet.

Meanwhile, Mister Fisher and Al Dancer have previous, having met on four occasions across three different codes during their careers. The most meaningful score stands at 1-1 over fences, and Al Dancer has certainly shown more this term, building on a winning reappearance to finish a fine third in last month's Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham. Al Dancer has the talent to figure, though it's worth noting that he's been beaten in each of his first five tries at Graded level over fences, while Mister Fisher will need to find plenty more than when pulled-up in the same race on reappearance at the November Meeting last time out. 

Instead, it looks worth siding with Dolos, who represents the Paul Nicholls operation. Rather surprisingly, you have to go back to 2004 to find the last time that Nicholls won this race, though in Dolos he can boast the highest-rated chaser on official ratings in this year's renewal. The seven-year-old is a smart performer on his day, and consistently runs well in some competitive handicaps, picking up a trio of valuable wins over the last couple of years at Sandown and Kempton respectively. He ran with plenty of credit to finish fourth under top weight in a similarly competitive affair at Cheltenham in October, and will arrive here fit as a consequence. The Nicholls string are in fine form at the moment, and with several of these having something to prove at present, Dolos appeals as a rock solid option at around the 6/1 mark to pick up some more prize money for the yard.

Selection

Peterborough ChaseHuntingdon, Sunday 6th December - back Dolos at 6/1

Peterborough Chase
Dolos silk

Dolos

Non-Runner
Cheltenham Festival Tips
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