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ZARKANDAR for the Champion Hurdle.

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By:
wellchief
When: 30 Dec 11 22:26
Paul Nicholls Betfair Column : http://betting.betfair.com/horse-racing/paul-nicholls/ante-post-plans/paul-nicholls-zarkandars-options-open-for-his-return-301211.html

But the horse that everyone is starting to ask me about is Triumph Hurdle winner Zarkandar, who trades as the joint third favourite for the Champion (at 9.8 on Betfair).

Well, we have no definite plan with Zarkandar at the moment but several options, with maybe the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury, the Kingwell at Wincanton, or Haydock possible first ports of call before Cheltenham.

I can tell you that he is in good order though, and coming along very nicely, and he had his first school of the season on grass on Thursday morning in company with Dildar.

He is over the problem that set him back for three weeks earlier in the season - he banged himself and was cast in his box - and in fact that was probably a blessing in disguise, as we have been able to take our time with him.

He has come on really on well physically too, as he is a much bigger, stronger horse. And of course he also had a breathing operation in the summer.

He always made a noise when working and schooling and, if he had gone to Kempton first time up and finished down the field, I would have probably have had it done there and then and put him away for the season.

So, hopefully we have a stronger and cleaner-winded horse to go to war with this season.

Not that the form of the Triumph is working out too badly.

The runner-up Unaccompanied won the Istrabraq at Leopardstown on Thursday, the third Grandouet won the International last time, and a certain Brampour (9th) hasn't done too badly either.

So we are really looking forward to seeing him back on the track. It will hopefully be well worth the wait.
By:
crescent
When: 30 Dec 11 22:45
Thanks Wellchief, good stuff.
By:
buddeliea
When: 31 Dec 11 07:26
Yeh,thanks WC,thats good to read,was getting a tad concerned.
By:
sintonian
When: 31 Dec 11 09:25
1 run before March ?  4 runs in total for a champion hurdler ?

How many past winners have had just 4 runs over obstacles .. think there may have been 1 or two but not many.
By:
R Carver
When: 31 Dec 11 09:53
I think Alderbrook had his 3rd in the Champion! And in his first run 3 yrs earlier he finished 8th or 9 I think! But I totally agree Sintonian, very few would be so inexperienced from memory, and very few are as good as Alderbrook!
By:
strontium
When: 31 Dec 11 10:24
13 of the last 14 had run over hurdles at least 10 times.
By:
SoYouThink
When: 31 Dec 11 11:38
Sublimity only had 5 runs over hurdles, and form read 14441 before his Festival win.
By:
R Carver
When: 31 Dec 11 17:10
SYT - did Sublimity not only have 1 prep run (in the Feb) in the yr of his (weak) win?
By:
SoYouThink
When: 31 Dec 11 17:40
Yes and he had four runs as a novice over hurdles the previous season R C. I agree though it was a weak renewal in 2007. A golden era for Irish hurdlers was reaching an end.
By:
willie the milk
When: 02 Jan 12 16:38
I would not say this looks like a vintage year, does it?
By:
bluebirdfan
When: 04 Jan 12 11:42
I'm on Zarkander purely because he could be anything; with softish ground (we're due a heavy rain festival one year soon surely) I'd want to be on something more battle hardened
By:
crescent
When: 06 Jan 12 21:47
Still hearing reports from a website that Spirit Son is going very well.
By:
wakey55
When: 06 Jan 12 23:12
Zarkandar I think has been overrated for the champion hurdle based upon a decent triumph last yr. A triumph where brampour, grandouet and unaccompanied have improved since. Which  4yos are entitled to do at different rates. Some would argue that grandouet was a better horse last year and suffered for hitting the front too soon in the triupmh.

Even so grandouet has demonstrated his improvement since something zarakandar has yet to do. So in my mind grandouet has to ahead in the pecking order.

Hurricane Fly is obviously the champion and is the one they've all got to beat all being well with the horse which it looks like he is now.

If the Triumph is looking a good race, then the Supreme is looking every much as good, if not better. In my opinion we have seen a top supreme the top 4 from that race will be top horses in the future. spirit son is the only hurdler left among those left and the Henderson are that he is top rank amongst which puts him ahead on grandouet and zarkandar in the pecking order.

In summary Zarkandar has at the 3 horses to beat to even get a place in the champion something i don't think he's capable of doing.
By:
revedesivola
When: 07 Jan 12 00:32
i think zarkandar is second best at the minute behind hurricane fly. grandouet finished behind zarkandar and he was far from an unlucky loser on any front i thought. zarkandar has had a breathing op since and i think its only going to improve him. nicky is raving about spirit son and i think thats why hes second fav, rather than on the basis that he has the second best form. we will know much more by the time march comes... interesting times
By:
wakey55
When: 07 Jan 12 09:05
I can agree that grandouets form with zarkandar can be taken either way, some would say grandouet was gonna reverse the form at aintree and crucially grandouet has shown improvement whereas zarkandar Is yet to do so.

Spirit Son is been well talked up, but did also put up the best novice performance of last season, but I take it on board that performance was at aintree over furher. I'd this horse can confirm his well being then in my eyes has a big chance of challenging hurricane fly. In my eyes spirit son should be 2nd fav. I watched the aintree win again last night. To beat cue card and rock on ruby the way he did was so impressive.
By:
crescent
When: 07 Jan 12 09:33
I can't believe Zarkandar will not have improved for another year and a breathing op.My original take was that at 10/1 he was great value as i thought he would be out earlier and get a win under his belt and be half the price. At the moment i'm still happy enough as nothing has really come out and set the world on fire with a blistering performance so it might just be Zarkandar that does it.
By:
revedesivola
When: 07 Jan 12 11:41
zarkandar was a long way from his best at aintree for me, grandouet may well have beaten him
By:
horse9
When: 07 Jan 12 12:35
Interesting thing to take from last years Triumph is how quickly Grandouet emptied out up the, I know they were only 4 years old and stamina improves as they age, but the winner and second went past him like he wasn't there and no-one was travelling better than Grandouet coming down the hill.
By:
R Carver
When: 07 Jan 12 15:44
RDS - nicky is raving about spirit son and i think thats why hes second fav, rather than on the basis that he has the second best form

Not sure I agree with that RDS - the win at Aintree (and Exeter) was breathtaking and different class to any novice performance I witnessed last yr. That is the main reason he is being backed IMO.
By:
horse9
When: 07 Jan 12 15:51
One thing to look for when trying to find Cheltenham winners is Cheltenham form, and same applies to Spirit Son as Grandouet, didn't get up the hill as well as you would have hoped and he wouldn't be the first horse to look a million dollars at flat tracks like Aintree but found wanting at Cheltenham...
By:
R Carver
When: 07 Jan 12 15:56
I agree with that horse9, but he was wining over 2m4 at Aintree, suggesting stamina is not an issue. Trainer and jockey also both on record as saying the Supreme came 6 months early for the horse physically, rather than him being a flat track type.
By:
revedesivola
When: 07 Jan 12 15:58
i think his main opposition underperformed at aintree as so many horses do at the end of a season carver. ive been impressed with him too but not as much as zarkandar. cant wait for both horses to run in the coming weeks
By:
horse9
When: 07 Jan 12 16:03
Yeah I remember a preview evening when the breeder said Spirit Son would be a great 6yo but was immature as a 5yo, but he didn't quicken away from his International field for me, he won it well but not in the shape of a Champion Hurdler waiting to happe, unless of course there's more improvement between Winter and March ?

I'm with Unaccompanied, she's the only one with no question marks for me, but if the Fly turns up then I think they're all playing for second place to be honest...
By:
horse9
When: 07 Jan 12 16:05
Ignore me, I'm confusing horses !
By:
R Carver
When: 07 Jan 12 16:43
Horse9 - agree Hurricane is the one to beat if everything turns up, and RDS I agree, next few weeks will be informative. I certainly agree the summer off and wind op and natural improvement make him a very interesting horse this yr
By:
thedemps
When: 07 Jan 12 22:25
For me Zark wasn't outstanding in the Triumph field and I wouldnt even be sure he would beat Unaccompanied or Grandouet, nether of which I fancy at currehnt prices - also Ruby chose Sam Winner last year and he was heavily backed unlike Zark

They are both very inexperienced for a CH but if one looks to be something special it would have to be SS - he is the only horse I give a realistic chance of beating an on song HF, except possibly Peddlers

Looks like the Irish CH could be a very good race
By:
revedesivola
When: 07 Jan 12 23:30
any horse ruby chooses at cheltenham is well backed, but even so i would even care about prices and drifters / springers
By:
thehoffisback
When: 10 Jan 12 14:57
is zarkandar fit and well,im slightly worried
By:
thehoffisback
When: 10 Jan 12 14:57
is zarkandar fit and well,im slightly worried
By:
revedesivola
When: 10 Jan 12 15:41
has he drifted? if not id imagine all is ok
By:
crescent
When: 11 Jan 12 22:18
I see Zarkandar has been entered for the Betfair Hdle, formerly the tote gold trophy i think.
By:
Masterminded
When: 11 Jan 12 22:30
Yep thought it was an interesting choice of race. Could personally see it suiting him with a strong pace if they do decide to go down that route.
By:
thieveslikeus
When: 12 Jan 12 10:41
It's not age that stops 5yos winning Champion Hurdles, it is lack of racecourse experience.  Horses need to be battle hardened to win this race.  Katchit won at 5 but had had 28 runs beforehand.  Cannot think of a winner since Royal Gait that took the race when lightly raced and he had passed the post first in an Ascot Gold Cup!  More than 15 runs under rules (including flat) is a must.
By:
Can't Catch Me
When: 12 Jan 12 11:38
Only one post, but an excellent one imo thieves!
By:
sintonian
When: 12 Jan 12 11:56
Yep, plenty of evidence why 5yo should not be backed. There have been previous Champion Hurdles winners that have been beaten in the race at 5, Punjabi & Bino.

Unaccompanined is a little different I feel though because she is built like a steeplechaser.

CCM, you backed anything for the race yet ?
By:
revedesivola
When: 12 Jan 12 12:15
unaccompanied is a 5yo whether she looks like a twig or an elephantSilly
By:
Can't Catch Me
When: 12 Jan 12 12:17
Only OW mate! Backed him at the end of last season and before he ran this. Glad they have chosen the race, but dont give him any chance tbh.... he has really disappointed me this season.

I'm tempted by a decent bet on HF at 7/4 NRNB as could see him going off evs or shorter in an average renewal, if he comes back and wins the Irish CH.

How about you mate?
By:
sintonian
When: 12 Jan 12 12:53
oh yeah had forgotten about OW.

I backed Spirit Son at 12/1 before the news he would only have run this year, which now puts me off.

I then backed Rock on Ruby eachway at 16/1 after Raya Star won the Ladbroke.

Have a saver on Unaccompanied at 25/1 as I smashed her in the Istabraq Hurdle lto (posted on the NH thread, and before Segal tipped her, so not aftertiming!)
By:
Can't Catch Me
When: 12 Jan 12 13:36
I quite like Unaccompanied myself. Although she cost me a fortune last year Sad
By:
roobuck
When: 13 Jan 12 10:27
As much as the 5yo stat is against him, I see no reason why the others in the Triumph would reverse form and I do think it is very solid form.

Disagree that the TS Trophy would be a good race for him. Whilst he could be thrown in, a large field handicap ( that can be quite rough )for a young horse's 1st run of the season would not be ideal prep for the CH. Would have thought that much more likely to go for the Kingwell.

All things considered I think next year will be the one for this horse
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