Somersby heads Peterborough field
Somersby and the progressive Mr Moonshine are among the star turns in the eight-runner field declared for Thursday's Betfred Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon.
Henrietta Knight's Somersby has been placed in the likes of the Melling Chase and finished just three lengths behind Master Minded at Ascot last time. Knight has claimed the race eight times with Edredon Bleu (four times), Best Mate, Impek and Racing Demon (twice). However, she feels Somersby could be slightly less suited to the track than her other winners.
"He's very well. We thought we'd give him a run in the Peterborough but we are still thinking of the King George," she told At The Races.
"We felt the King George was cutting up into a two-horse race so we may as well have a go at this. He's very consistent, but is not like the other winners of this race that I've had, the others were nippier.
"He's a big, long, strapping horse and I hope he won't get into a muddle over the fences like he has in the past. I think it will be quite a competitive race. I'm really looking forward to running him over three miles (in the King George) because I think everything will be more at his pace and his jumping should be better."
Far less experienced is Sue Smith's Mr Moonshine, who is still a novice but looked a star in the making when winning at Carlisle and Haydock this season. Connections have decided to take on more experienced chasers, rather than run against the likes of Bobs Worth and Grands Crus in the Feltham at Kempton on Boxing Day.
Harvey Smith, assistant to his wife and trainer, Sue, said: "We'll see how good he is. They (handicappers) have put him out of everything else so he has nowhere else to go. He's going to get three and a half miles and he'd be the best of the long-distance horses we have, but he has enough pace for two and a half. So far his jumping has looked his strong suit - he's very quick at his fences. The horse is fresh and well and you can do no more than have a go."
Paul Nicholls runs The Nightingale, who recently returned from a long absence, and Nicholls feels the trip and track will be right up his street. The Graham Roach-owned chaser travelled sweetly for a long way in the JNWine.com Champion Chase before his stamina ran out in the very heavy ground.
The champion trainer said: "He had his first run back at Down Royal and came back in good nick. He seems well at home. There aren't many races on right-handed tracks around at the moment so we'll see if he's good enough."
Nicky Henderson will be represented by another novice in Surfing, who has not quite lived up to his reputation in two outings since arriving from France. Tartak, the winner last year when the race was run at Newbury, is back for another try, with Nick Williams bringing Gauvain back quickly after he fell in Saturday's Tingle Creek. Ex-Nicholls runner Tchico Polos, now with Lucinda Russell, and Charlie Longsdon's well-regarded Hidden Keel, well beaten by Mr Moonshine at Carlisle, complete the octet.