Punters fancying Zarkandar in the Triumph Hurdle betting have been told by trainer Paul Nicholls that they should not be overly concerned by the horse’s lack of races over hurdles ahead of the Cheltenham Festival.
In his first race since arriving at the Nicholls yard, Zarkandar was a decent winner of a good juvenile hurdle at Kempton when holding off the challenge of Nicky Henderson’s Molotof on what was largely soft ground.
Nicholls knows that the heavy ground was far from ideal and that not only will Zarkandar improve for his first hurdles appearance, but also when presented with a faster surface to race on.
Zarkandar has now significantly shortened into 10/1 in the Triumph Hurdle betting and given the quality of his breeding, he is arguably one of the best horses to ever take to obstacles.
The four-year-old should suffer no shortage of speed as he is a half-brother to 2008 Arc de Triomphe winner Zarkava, which means that the main question mark hanging over him ahead of Cheltenham is the reliability of his jumping.
However, Nicholls will ensure the horse is as ready as possible ahead of the Triumph Hurdle.
He said: “Going to Cheltenham on the back of just one run over hurdles is not ideal but he’s been schooling three times a week so he’ll jump plenty of hurdles. Zarkandar did everything impressively and he has a bit of class.”
Nicholls stands a great chance of securing Triumph Hurdle victory at the Cheltenham Festival as he has three horses all towards the forefront of the betting market.
Sam Winner is 12/1 in the Triumph Hurdle odds and is another who is sure to be a contender if the ground is on the firm side.
He also has a victory over current Triumph Hurdle favourite Grandouet to his name this season.
Meanwhile, Nicholls’ other fancied runner Brampour is 14/1 in the Cheltenham betting to win the Triumph Hurdle.
A £25 stake on Zarkandar winning the JCB Triumph Hurdle would return £250. New customers can sign up here for a free £25 bet.