Zarkandar Looking Good For Chelters – Weekend Review

There was plenty to digest from the weekend’s racing, where Reve De Sivola stole the headlines in landing a third consecutive Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot.

Saturday’s victory for the 9yo was his sixth Grade 1 in total, though he had to dig very deep in catching an idling Zarkandar on the line. The winner will probably take the same route as the last few years in heading for the Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham in January (won it in 2013), although his 20/1 odds for March’s World Hurdle don’t appeal at this stage as he has been unplaced in the last two renewals.

Zarkandar’s followers shouldn’t be downbeat, however, as the 7yo was arguably in front for too long when mugged by Reve De Sivola on Saturday, and his jockey (Sam Twiston-Davies) admitted he should have waited longer.

As a result, Zarkandar’s World Hurdle odds of 12/1 certainly make more appeal more than Reve De Sivola’s, and he shouldn’t be written off.

On the same card, backers of Gordon Elliott’s Bayan, have a lot to thank for jockey Davy Condon for, as he received a ban for his hard work in getting the 14/1 winner over the line in The Ladbroke Handicap. No doubt this improving 5yo will feature in plenty more major handicap hurdles next year, such as Newbury’s Betfair Hurdle in February where the 2010 Ladbroke winner, Raya Star, finished third in.

Ascot also staged a card on Friday in which L’Ami Serge was an impressive winner of the Grade 2 Kennel Gate Novices’ Hurdle. He is now 2-2 for Nicky Henderson and will be sent to Cheltenham In January to get experience of the track before tackling a race like tackling the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, for which he is joint second favourite on 14/1.

Also on the same card, Paul Nicholls’ Ptit Zig, impressed in winning the Grade 2 Noel Novices’ Chase by 9l. This victory over 2m3f made it 3-3 for the 5yo over fences, and while he is 10/1 for the Arkle (2m), he may be better suited by the JLT Novices’ Chase at the Festival over 2m4f where he is 8/1.

It could also be a good decision to avoid the Arkle, as Un De Sceaux shot to the head of the betting for that race when making a big impression by winning at Fairyhouse on Saturday.

It may have been only a beginners chase that Willie Mullins’ 6yo won, but a sound round of jumping saw him scoot 12l clear over this 2m trip (soft), and he may be next seen in mid-January according to connections. The Arkle is one of the few races at the Cheltenham Festival that Mullins has yet to win, but Un De Sceaux could be the one who changes that, and may well be shorter than 3/1 if winning beforehand.

There will also be Cheltenham Festival clues aplenty over the coming festive period with so many big races set to take place, including both the King George at Kempton and the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown, two races that have provided nine of the last 10 Cheltenham Gold Cup winners – don’t’ miss them!