Cheltenham: Ptit Zig remains unbeaten over fences
Paul Nicholls’ Ptit Zig took his unbeaten chasing tally to four with a hard fought victory in the Grade 2 Betbright Novices’ Chase. Victories at Exeter, Warwick and a Grade 2 at Ascot had put the now 6yo towards the top of the Novice Chasing division this season and today’s battling effort with a fine round of jumping will keep him there.
Sent off the well supported Even money favourite, Ptit Zig would eventually get into a great battle with 7/2 shot and fellow unbeaten chaser Champagne West. Phillip Hobbs’ charge was looking to make it three in a row at the track and jockey Tom O’Brien would have been confident as he headed the field turning for home.
Sam Twiston-Davies was made to shake up Ptit Zig approaching the second last but his mount readily kept on and having put in a fine jump at the last rolled clear to score by 6 lengths.
The winning jockey said afterwards: “I’m very happy, the ground wasn’t as we expected, it was a bit tacky which he didn’t like.
“It was quite a messy race, everyone wanted to be handy, but he was very professional and jumped neatly. Paul said going out he felt he could get him better for March, so come the Festival he must have a great chance.
“Champagne West is his hardest test to date and he’s a horse we like.”
Trainer, Nicholls said: “Sam said that he raced a bit lazily today and that he hit a flat spot two out, but he winged the last and I was very pleased with the way he picked up the leader.
“It was his fourth run in a short period of time but I wanted to get experience of Cheltenham into him.
“I won’t run him in the Arkle and while I think he will get three miles in time, he’ll be heading for the JLT at the Festival.
“I’ll give him a break and find something in mid-February such as the Pendil at Kempton, while Irish Saint could run in the Scilly Isles at Sandown.
“He’ll definitely stay further and don’t be surprised if he’s a King George horse next year.”
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