Top Notch leads home 1-2 for Henderson in rescheduled Peterborough Chase
Top Notch will never be the most imposing horse in the parade ring but they don’t have fences there and instead he keeps delivering where it counts.
Josses Hill was the one who drew the gasps from the Taunton crowd with his exuberant jumping, but when it comes to content over style turn to Top Notch, who added the Peterborough Chase to his blossoming CV.
The Ascot Chase is the likely next target for the six-year-old, who remains a 6-1 chance for the Ryanair Chase, his Cheltenham Festival target, following a three-and-a-quarter length win over his Nicky Henderson-trained stablemate in the Grade 2 switched to Somerset after frost claimed Huntingdon’s meeting last Sunday.
Tailing Josses Hill and Ptit Zig up front, Top Notch, who ran Yorkhill close in the JLT Novices’ Chase last season, was all efficiency rather than show over Taunton’s 15 fences before metronomically easing into the lead with two left to jump and staying there.
“We never thought he'd make a chaser,” confessed Henderson about the winner, returned at odds of 4-9 to maintain the winning form of owners Isaac Souede and Simon Munir.
“We didn’t think he had the scope. But now we have to treat him as a proper horse.
“We went to Plumpton and Warwick with him last year and he's now grown into a steeplechaser. He's not grown in size but he's grown in confidence. He's matured. While Josses Hill is exuberant, Top Notch has his own efficient way of getting from A to B.
“The ground was sticky enough but we got the race in and got the job done. This was perfect for Top Notch. We’re looking at the Ascot Chase and the Ryanair. I think two and a half miles is his trip.
But if it wasn’t for Bristol De Mai, who has the same owners, I'd be gagging to go at the King George with him.”
After sharing a hug with Top Notch following the win, rider Daryl Jacob said: “He did what he had to do. His last win at Ascot was more impressive, but the ground out there was dead. We're delighted with him.
“He's one of my favourite horses in training. He’s won some lovely races. Everyone in the yard loves him. He's small but has a massive heart.“
Henderson said: “He’s a nice person. If there was a poll in the yard I’d be surprised if he didn’t come out on top.”
The winner on height at Seven Barrows might be Josses Hill, who could now drop back in trip.
Henderson said: “Josses Hill has run a great race and has jumped beautifully out in front. I would jump a fence on Josses Hill. He could go for the Desert Orchid at Kempton.”
There was something positive to take for all four runners with Vaniteux running his best race since switching from Henderson to David Pipe and Ptit Zig showing he could still be useful back over fences.
Henderson beamed: “Well done to everyone for rearranging this race. Well done Taunton and the BHA. We desperately needed this race for our two. Where else would they have gone?”