The winners of 98 races and more than £2million of prize-money feature amongst a high class field of 14 entered for Huntingdon’s feature race of the year, the Grade 2 Fitzdares Club Loves The Peterborough Chase.
Sunday’s action will be the first time since March 11th that the racecourse has been able to welcome spectators, with up to 2,000 racing fans allowed at the track in line with the Government’s tier system. In addition four races from Huntingdon will be broadcast live on ITV4 from the track on Sunday.
A race won by many of jump racing’s most famous names over the years, including Best Mate, Edredon Bleu, One Man and Wayward Lad, the line-up for this year’s £65,000 contest is headed by dual winner Top Notch. Successful in 2017 and 2019, the nine-year-old will be having his first run since January, as he bids to become the second three-time winner of the race, after Edredon Bleu, who was victorious four times in total.
Henderson said on Monday: “He likes it there so we thought we better go again. He had a little wind-op a couple of months ago, which we always thought might help him, but it just held him up a little. Otherwise, he’s in very good form and we’re all good to go.”
The yard have also entered Mister Fisher, who pulled up in the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham three weeks ago. Henderson added: “Mister Fisher wants good ground. It was fine in the morning last time but then there was a downpour and it was horrendous. Nico pulled him up after a couple of miles and he didn’t have a hard time. If the ground stays as it is, chances are he’ll run as well.”
Another interesting contender is Nuts Well, who defied top-weight to win the Grade 2 Monet’s Garden Old Roan Chase at Aintree six weeks ago. Owned and trained in Northumberland by 68-year-old Ann Hamilton and her 73-year-old husband Ian, Nuts Well is one of only six horses stabled at their cattle farm, which is the Hamilton’s main occupation.
Speaking on Monday, Ian Hamilton said: “We intend to run. The better the ground, the better it is for him. He’s in great order, and it was softer than ideal last time. We think he’s improved again this season. We’re always a decent price and they never rate us but we’ve proven them wrong a few times and hope we can again on Sunday. Danny McMenamin will ride again.”
Cheltenham Festival winner Simply The Betts is also in the field, after finishing a creditable sixth on his return in the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham’s November Meeting three weeks ago. The seven-year-old won the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate in March and trainer Harry Whittington said on Monday: “He’s in great form and has come out of his last race fine. He’s also in the Caspian Caviar at Cheltenham on Saturday 12th and no decision about where he runs will be made until later in the week. Wherever he runs, I think he’ll run very well.”
The remaining nine runners include Paddy Power Gold Cup third Al Dancer for trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies and lightly-raced five-year-old Fanion d’Estruval. The line-up is completed by Brewin’upastorm, Bun Doran, Dolos, Esprit Du Large, Forest Bihan, Glen Forsa, Keeper Hill and Mercian Prince.
All seven races on Sunday’s card are sponsored by the “world’s finest bookmaker” Fitzdares, who have recently opened the Fitzdares Club at Davies Street in London’s Mayfair.
The club – upstairs at the Running Horse, Mayfair’s oldest pub – is referred to as ‘The world’s most luxurious sports bar’, offering sumptuous surroundings and a comfortable place to settle down in front of one of nine huge screens to watch sport seven days a week.
The club’s CEO William Woodhams said: “We are delighted to be sponsoring the Peterborough Chase once again, its 51st running. It’s a really special day in the calendar, even more so this year, now that racegoers will be able to attend after such a long time away."
Fitzdares offer full club membership providing access to more generous betting offers, invitations to Fitzdares Club hospitality at major sporting events, the Fitzdares Wine Club, subscriptions to the bookmaking trade’s Total Performance Data and the in-house Fitzdares Times, and preferential rates at partner restaurants, top hat retailers and Savile Row tailors.
James Wilcox, General Manager at Huntingdon Racecourse, said: “We’re looking forward to the Peterborough Chase and to welcoming some racegoers to the track for the first time since March 11th. As a racecourse in a Tier 2 area of the country we’re able to have up to 2,000 racing fans on course and we’re also looking forward to many more being able to follow the action on ITV Racing for the first time.”
The action at Huntingdon gets underway on 12:12pm for the first of seven races, and the going is currently good to soft, good in places.