Racing News : February 3rd


Today’s racing news features Cheltenham World Hurdle contender Zarkander.

Zarkandar finished fourth in last year’s edition of the World Hurdle and was last seen in the JLT Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot just before Christmas.

The eight-year-old had appeared on course for a victory but was just beaten by Reve De Sivola.

Trainer Nicholls refused to answer questions directly after the race but he has now stated he is happy with Zarkandar’s progress and is upbeat ahead of the World Hurdle in March.

“Zarkandar goes straight to Cheltenham. I didn’t talk to the press afterwards, because we don’t like getting beat a short head in Grade Ones and it didn’t quite work out quite how we hoped it would,” Nicholls is quoyed as saying by Sky Sports

“Sam (Twiston-Davies, Zarkandar’s rider at Ascot) learned a big lesson that day as to the way he rode Saphir Du Rheu taking on and beating Reve De Sivola last week (in the Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham).

“Zarkandar got left in front a bit too soon at Ascot and a more competitive race will suit him.

“Last year was almost an afterthought running him the World Hurdle. We’ve kept him fresh for it this year and trained him for it, and he’s in good shape.

“We knows he stays. All he wants is a bit of cover and to attack late. It is just unfortunate the way it worked out at Ascot.

“I was listening to Ruby Walsh on Racing UK the other day, and he thinks Zarkandar is the one they’ve all got to beat.

“I’ve no idea about jockey plans yet, though. We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.”


Zarkandar can be backed at 8/1 in the win and each way market ahead of the World Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

The Nicholls-trained Saphir Du Rheu is available at 6/1 and Reve De Sivola is priced at 16/1.


Bet365 betting

Another confirmed for Cheltenham is Shark Hanlon’s Hidden Cyclone.

He’s aimed at the Queen Mother Champion Chase following his victory in the Tied Cottage Chase at Punchestown.

He gained an overdue victory in the Grade 2 contest, coming home with five-lengths in hand under Andrew McNamara from our selection the day Bright New Dawn.

The victory brought to an end an unfortunate run that had seen Hidden Cyclone finish in the runner-up position three times at Grade 1 level last season before falling on his first starts of this season.

Hanlon was relieved with the win.

“We’re happy for a change. We’re so used to being second so it’s good to come here and win,” he said.

“Over two miles he’s good and he has plenty of cruising gears. I have to speak to the owners yet but I’d say the Queen

“He jumped well today, never put a foot wrong, and I couldn’t be happier. I’d say that’s the best he’s ever jumped,” the trainer added.


Hidden Cyclone is currently priced 12/1 for the Champion Chase


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