Huntingdon: chasers with a bit to prove in Peterborough clash
Josses Hill: was an impressive winner at Kempton
PICTURE: Mark Cranham (racingpost.com/photos) Clash of classy chasers with a bit to prove By Graham Dench 8:00PM 3 DEC 2016
Preview: Huntingdon, Sunday
Betfred Peterborough Chase (Grade 2) 2m4f, 4yo+
An impressive win in a graduation chase at Kempton last month renewed hopes that the eight-year-old is a reformed character, for his jumping was much better. However, this will be tougher, and a crashing fall in last year's Tingle Creek Chase was a reminder that he had his own way of doing things over fences.
But trainer Nicky Henderson is confident that the course and decent ground will play to the strengths of Josses Hill.
"I was very happy with him at Kempton and he's been great since," said Henderson. "I'm trying to get things in his favour and he likes going two and a half miles, right-handed on good ground, which is what he had there and what he has here."
Henderson also saddles Volnay De Thaix, who makes his seasonal reappearance.
"Volnay De Thaix goes very well fresh and is very well in himself," the trainer added. "He finished up with an excellent run at Sandown and I've been very happy with him all the way through his preparation. He is not out of it all."
Paul Nicholls is a multiple winner of many of jumping's pattern races but the Peterborough Chase is an exception, for his first win in 2004 with Le Roi Miguel has yet to be repeated.
The champion trainer saddles Dodging Bullets, who was pulled-up sharply at Ascot a fortnight ago.
"If you forget Dodging Bullets' last run at Ascot you would have to fancy him, and we hope we can draw a line through that," said Nicholls. "He used to get stressed when he went racing, and there were signs of that at Ascot a few hours before the race, although by racetime he was fine. Whether he was a bit colicky I don't know, but we did all the tests when we got home and nothing showed up."
Frank Berry, racing manager to owner JP McManus, expects better this time and said: "He was very disappointing at Cheltenham, where he lacked a run and got very tired. He's come out of the race well, and fingers crossed we will see a much better effort this time."
Ground and weather
The going at Huntingdon is good to soft and clerk of the course Jack Pryor said on Sunday morning: "It's frosty here at the moment but not in the ground and temperatures are already above freezing.
"We are set for a great days racing but I should think the jockeys will say the ground will be a bit on the dead side."
There will also be some high-profile names in action at Kelso after the meeting got the go-ahead following an early-morning inspection.
Dual Grade 1-winning chaser Dynaste has his sights lowered following some below-par performances and contests a veterans' chase (2.50), while 2015 Coral Cup winner Aux Ptits Soins runs in a novice chase (12.50) earlier on the card.
The going at Kelso is good to soft, soft in places.
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