By Simon Jackson at Ascot.
Champion trainer Paul Nicholls’ good form continued when Ptit Zig stormed to a nine-length victory in the Grade 2 Mitie Novices’ Chase at Ascot on Friday.
The emphatic success extended the five-year-old’s unbeaten run over fences to three, following wins at Warwick and Exeter in November.
Ptit Zig – a talented hurdler who won a Grade 1 hurdle in France last year before finishing sixth to Jezki in the Stan James Champion Hurdle in March – has swiftly adapted to the larger obstacles.
He raced close to the pace for the bulk of the two miles and three furlongs contest for Sam Twiston-Davies before taking it up four fences out and continued the momentum to win readily.
The manner of the victory delighted the eight-time champion trainer who bagged his 100th Grade 1 victory last month.
“The two runs he has had already at Warwick and Exeter weren’t lost on him and he jumped really well today,” Nicholls said.
“He travelled well and when Sam gave him a kick in the belly today he took off. He is a proper horse.
“He won a Grade 1 last year at Auteuil and he ran well in the Champion Hurdle and he ran well at Aintree. But he’s not that pacey a horse really and we couldn’t run him in anything else really, because of his handicap rating.
“He was always going to go chasing and that was really good today.
“He will be entered in two or two and a half miles. Two miles on soft suits him, but you wouldn’t want to run him over two miles on quick ground.
“We have loads of options. Everyone goes on about Cheltenham, but Cheltenham is not the be all and end all. There is plenty of races and next season he could go anywhere in time.
“When the ground is soft you could look at two or two and a half miles. He is quite versatile so I haven’t really made a plan to be honest with you. Kempton will come too soon for him, but he could possibly go to Cheltenham for New Year’s Day over two miles five for The Dipper.
“I see him in time getting further. He jumps and he stays and has got a bit of pace and it helps really. He ran sixth in the Champion last year and he was flat out all the way and you just think that two miles might just be too sharp for him. If the ground is testing it is a different story.
“At the end of the day he got that [distance today] really strongly so you have to think the further he goes the better he may be.
“I see him as a middle distance horse who can drop back.”
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