It is hard not to believe that Zarkandar has to win the Betfair Hurdle if he is to have any chance of competing in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham, but as the 9/4 favourite in the horse racing odds to win at Newbury, this price offers little value.
Trainer Paul Nicholls has already suggested that his main aim is to ensure the horse arrives at the Festival in prime condition and as Zarkandar has not been seen since April, he could need to run to provide a late boost to fitness.
Still, with the main challengers at Cheltenham having official ratings close to 170, Zarkandar’s chances would diminish comprehensively if failing to land the Betfair Hurdle off a mark of 151.
Zarkandar remains unbeaten over hurdles from his three career starts and if anywhere near his best will win comfortably.
However, with such a short-priced favourite for a race scheduled to have 20 runners, there is plenty of each-way value to be found elsewhere with the first four gaining a return.
Olofi is 12/1 in the Betfair Hurdle and certainly is among those with each-way claims at Newbury.
Tom George’s runner has done little wrong on his last two starts, seemingly benefiting from the decision to fit him with both cheekpieces and a tongue tie.
After finishing second in the Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham, he looked to be travelling best at Newbury last time on the toes of the leaders before falling two hurdles from home.
Meanwhile, his form in big fields is more than reasonable, finishing in the each-way places in three of his last four starts in races with a minimum of 12 runners.
The fact he has course and distance form and gets in at a low weight at Newbury should see him there are thereabouts in the closing stages.