• Racing/
  • Key Kingwell Test For Zarkandar

Bathwick Tyres Kingwell Hurdle (Grade 2) 2m

  • (4yo+, 2m, Class 1, 6 runners)
  • Winner £34,170 2nd £12,822 3rd £6,420 4th £3,198 5th £1,608 6th £804
  • Going: Heavy, Soft in places
  • Surface: Turf
Weighed In:
  • Winning time: 4m 7.30s
  • Off time: 15:35:31
Full result
Result 15:35 Wincanton
Pos Horse Distance/th> Odds
1st 3 Zarkandar 1/3f
2nd 5 Khyber Kim 14/1
  • Last Updated: February 15 2013, 17:29 GMT

View from connections ahead of the Grade Two Bathwick Tyres Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton on Saturday.

Zarkandar: Tackles the Kingwell Hurdle
Zarkandar: Tackles the Kingwell Hurdle

Zarkandar attempts to boost his strong claims for the Stan James Champion Hurdle when he lines up at Wincanton on Saturday.

The second favourite for next month's Festival showpiece has this term won the Elite Hurdle on this track and the International Hurdle at Cheltenham.

He has his final race before the big one when facing five rivals in the Grade Two Bathwick Tyres Kingwell Hurdle.

Trainer Paul Nicholls is anticipating a good display from the 2011 Triumph Hurdle winner.

"This is his final preparation race before the Champion Hurdle," said the Ditcheat handler.

"We'd obviously prefer better ground, but he's won on similar going so we are not worried. He goes well fresh. We've trained him differently this year and it seems to suit him.

"Daryl (Jacob) is very much looking forward to riding him as he won on him at the Festival in 2011."

Nicholls also runs Celestial Halo, who has finished second in this race for the last two years but has been absent since running in last season's Champion Hurdle.

Connections want to get a run into the nine-year-old before the Ladbrokes World Hurdle at Cheltenham next month.

"The plan was to start off in the National Spirit at Fontwell on Sunday week, but with a meeting being abandoned there this week we are concerned about the ground," said owner Andy Stewart.

"We didn't want to take a chance if it rained heavily again before then and it was abandoned. You can't go straight to Cheltenham without a run.

"He'll need the run for sure. Although he's no Big Buck's and is probably not good enough to win a World Hurdle it does look an open race. Zarkandar is obviously the one to beat tomorrow."

Trainer Alan King has won this race twice in recent times and goes for a third victory with Raya Star and Balder Succes.

"This has been a lucky race for us, with both Katchit and Mille Chief successful," the Barbury Castle handler told www.alankingracing.co.uk.

"Raya Star has been a model of consistency and has never stopped improving. He gave us two great days when winning The Ladbroke and the Scottish Champion Hurdle and also landed a hot Listed handicap at Ascot in November.

"Obviously, his second to Darlan at Kempton makes excellent reading, and he is fresh and well after a short break, while the small field will certainly suit Balder Succes, who travelled well in the Welsh Champion but ultimately did not get home.

"He will appreciate coming back in trip and won't mind the ground, and, while he is wrong at the weights, he gets claustrophobic, so these conditions races seem to suit him better than the big handicaps."

Nicky Henderson saddled Binocular to lift this prize 12 months ago and the Seven Barrows handler has chosen this race to bring back Khyber Kim.

The 2010 Champion Hurdle runner-up, when under the care of Nigel Twiston-Davies, returns to action after being sidelined for 681 days but Henderson is looking for a prominent display.

He said: "He's in remarkably good form. He used to be a very good worker when I had him and Nigel said the same. He's capable of showing really good form, but he has been off for centuries and I'm sure he'll need the run."

The six-strong field is completed by Monte Cavallo from the Rebecca Curtis stable.


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