Zarkandar 7/1 for Champion

  • By: Andy Schooler
  • Last Updated: December 15 2012, 16:25 GMT

Zarkandar is into a best of 7/1 for Champion Hurdle glory after victory at Cheltenham on Saturday.

Zarkandar holds off Grandouet to win at Cheltenham
Zarkandar holds off Grandouet to win at Cheltenham

Paul Nicholls' star won the StanJames.com International Hurdle from Grandouet and is now the second favourite for March's championship race back at the Prestbury Park track.

Ladbrokes, Paddy Power and Boylesports will all give you 7s about that happening.

Grandouet, having his first run of the season, was just two lengths back though and that run saw some disagreement among the layers.

Ladbrokes were impressed enough to have Nicky Henderson's charge at a shorter price for the Festival race than Zarkandar - they go 6/1.

Their David Williams explained: "We felt Grandouet was certainly the horse to take out of the big race. Zarkandar was backed to win on the day but we feel there could be much better to come from the runner-up."

The majority finished the day with Grandouet at a bigger price, Betfred and totesport offering a best of 8/1.

Sky Bet went into 6/1 about both horses and their Michael Shinners said: "Both enhanced their reputations with Zarkandar very game and Grandouet giving the winner 4lbs."

Rock On Ruby, the reigning champion hurdler, is out to 12/1 with William Hill and Stan James after finishing only third.

Rory Jiwani, of Stan James, assessed: "Rock On Ruby is out to 12/1 despite running a good race in third on his reappearance and that looks a big price about Harry Fry's reigning Champion Hurdler.

"The ground would not have been to any of the big three's liking, but one can't help but feel that Zarkandar's 4lb pull in the weights had a big say in the result."

Hurricane Fly is the current Champion Hurdle favourite at a top price of 6/1 (Coral).

In the same market, Oscar Whisky was trimmed in places after, as expected, he sauntered to victory in the last race on the card. Paddy Power and William Hill will give you 14/1.

The other big race of the day, the Paul Stewart Ironspine Charity Challenge Gold Cup, was won by four-year-old Unioniste, who was moved into 16/1 for the Ryanair Chase by Stan James and Coral.

There were plenty of other Festival movers on a packed day of action.

There was disagreement over Far West's performance in the opener at Cheltenham.

Nicholls' hopeful made it three wins out of three in the JCB Triumph Hurdle Trial with a comfortable win after being sent off at 2/9.

But while William Hill and Coral saw fit to cut their Triumph Hurdle price to 6/1, both Ladbrokes and Betfred/totesport left their price unchanged at 10/1.

Kashmir Peak was also cut - into a best of 20s - after a win at Doncaster.

In the RSA Chase betting, Cheltenham winner Highland Lodge was cut into 20s after seeing off Our Father, who subsequently drifted to 25s.

Sky Bet are into 16s from 33s and their spokesman Shinners said: "The ground was very testing but you couldn't be anything but impressed."

Rocky Creek is also a 25/1 shot after winning at Doncaster, while Lingfield winner Court In Motion is 33s with Paddy Power.

Finally, Coneygree is a best of 12/1 for the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle after winning the trial on the big Cheltenham card.

Ladbrokes left their prices at 12s as rival firms went a short as 7/1.