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Zarkander seeking world domination
01 Feb 2015 11:11
Zarkandar will head straight to the Ladbrokes World Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival with an upbeat report from trainer Paul Nicholls.
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The eight-year-old, who finished fourth to More Of That in last year's three-mile showpiece, was touched off by Reve De Sivola in the JLT Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot just before Christmas.
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Sam Twiston-Davies's mount was seemingly running all over Reve De Sivola but downed tools when hitting the front and his rival battled back to win.
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Nicholls was visibly shaken by the defeat and refused to answer questions in the immediate aftermath.
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Zarkandar is currently 10-1 third-favourite with the sponsors behind last year's champion for the feature event on 12 March. Nicholls' other big hope, last week's Cleeve Hurdle winner Saphir
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Du Rheu, is second in the betting behind the Jonjo O'Neill-trained More Of That in most lists.
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And the trainer says he has since been pleased with Zarknadar's progress.
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Nicholls said: "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.
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"Sam learned a big lesson that day as to the way he rode Saphir Du Rheu taking on and beating Reve De Sivola last week (at Cheltenham).
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"Zarkandar got left in front a bit too soon at Ascot and a more competitive race will suit him.
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"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.
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"We knows he stays. All he wants is a bit of cover and to attack late.
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"It is just unfortunate the way it worked out at Ascot.
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"I was listening to Ruby (Walsh, Nicholls's former stable jockey) on Racing UK the other day, and he thinks Zarkandar is the one they've all got to beat.
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"I've no idea about jockey plans yet, though. We'll cross that bridge when we come to it."
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