Zarkandar makes belated return - irishexaminer.com

/r/horseracing Cheltenham Festival guide and discussion 2015

As of writing this there is less than two weeks until the greatest horseracing festival on Earth. With 4 days and 35 races of the highest quality, the sub would be inundated unless we keep things central so use this thread for absolutely anything Cheltenham - news, previews, tips and, most importantly, debate!
For those who are unfamiliar, The Cheltenham Festival in held every March at Cheltenham Racecourse in Gloucestershire. The National Hunt season is mostly run with it in mind, as top trainers all desire even a single win at the jewel in the crown of jumps racing. The various graded races throughout the year are usually used as pointers towards graded races at the festival, for example a winner of the Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown in January will probably be high up in the market for the Supreme Novices Hurdle at the Festival. It consists of 4 days - Champion Day (Tue), Ladies Day (Wed), St Patricks Thursday and Gold Cup Day (Fri) and this year is held between the 10th and 14th of March
The Races
Each of the four days is centred around a Championship race:
The Champion Hurdle, The Queen Mother Champion Chase, The World Hurdle and The Cheltenham Gold Cup
The Champion Hurdle and Champion Chase are 2m races - the shortest distances in NH racing and are held on the Cheltenham Old Course as are all races on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The World Hurdle and Gold Cup are held over stayers distances of 3 miles and 3 miles 2 and a half furlongs respectively. They are raced on the New Course on Thursday and Friday.
Other races include Grade 1 novice chases and hurdles, big prize pot handicaps as well as handicaps for amateur riders, conditional jockeys and hunter chasers as well as a mares hurdle race and two races for juvenile hurdlers (4 year old horses).
The Stars
Perhaps one of the greatest appeals of National Hunt racing is the opportunity for horses to become household names due to the lengths of their careers. Unlike on the flat where stallions are carted off to stud after 2 or 3 years, most NH horses are geldings and usually aren't begun to be raced until they develop into their strongest frames between 5 and 8.
Festival heroes include Istabraq who is a three time winner of the Champion Hurdle. More recently, Hurricane Fly who is trained by Irish top trainer Willie Mullins won the 2011 and 2013 renewals of the race.
Just as we were blessed to watch the mighty Frankel in our lifetimes, there will surely be or have been very few who are better chasers than Sprinter Sacre at the height of his career. The Nicky Henderson Horse was undefeated over fences before having to pull up due to a heart condition last Christmas. He was defeated upon reappearance in the Clarence House Chase, though arguably was not hard pushed. Whether that is a good or bad sign will become clear as the festival unfolds. American followers of NH racing were cheering home Flagship Uberalles during his racing career, and with silks like those they must have been ecstatic when he made up for his loss when favourite in the 2000 QMCC by winning the 2002 renewal.
No horse have ever been bred to win a World Hurdle is a saying in the NH world. Most horses that win were bred with the Gold Cup in mind but didn't take to chasing for whatever reason. Though a winner of the 2m4f novices chase at the Cheltenham Festival in 2008, Big Buck's was reverted to hurdles after unseating his rider in the Hennessey Gold Cup in the next season. This was rather fortuitous as it turned out as staying hurdlers go, he was an absolute machine. Until an injury setback in 2013, he was undefeated in 18 runs, including 4 World Hurdles, 4 Liverpool Hurdles, 4 Long Distance Hurdles and 3 Long Walk Hurdles - all of which are Grade 1s. After missing most of the 2013 season due to injury, the 11 year old returned after a 400+ day absence for the 2014 Cleeve Hurdle during Festival Trials day where he lost his unbeaten record. There was no fairytale finish when competing in the 2014 World Hurdle, though he was retired a legend of the staying hurdle sphere to rapturous applause from the crowd.
The Gold Cup has been won by many beloved horses over the years - Arkle, Desert Orchid, Dawn Run. More recently Best Mate entered the hearts when winning his third successive Gold Cup. The image of his trainer Henrietta Knight embracing husband and former champion jockey Terry Biddlecombe at the post lives long in the memory - especially given the passing of Mr Biddlecombe last year.
Kauto Star is also a mutiple Gold Cup winner who retired in 2012. He had a famous rivalry with stablemate Denman who won the 2008 Gold Cup and whose career was blighted by a heart issue.
Another festival legend is Quevega who is on a massive unbeaten run herself. She won the Mares Hurdle at the festival an impressive 5 times in a row as well as the World Series Hurdle at Punchestown in the same years. Last year she picked up her sixth win in the Mares Hurdle but could not retain her World Series Hurdle crown and was retired to stud.
Ones to Watch
Even at the grand old age of 11, Hurricane Fly is having another crack at the Champion Hurdle in order to emulate Istabraq in winning it three times. This years competition will be one of the more competitive affairs. Favourites in the betting include new kid on the block Faugheen who as a novice won races from 2 miles to 3 over al sorts of ground. his versatility makes him the most exciting hurdling prospect in training although questions are in place over the quality of his victories this campaign. The New One returns flying the flag for Britain having arguably been unlucky in running last year. There is no doubt over his quality and he has a devestating turn of foot. Last year's winner Jezki returns having been beaten convincingly by Hurricane Fly three times this season. There can be no doubt he'll be primed for this race though some spectators question his record with Tony McCoy on board. This race is certain to be a fantastic showcase of hurdling and with any luck will be a fantastic spectacle.
With Sprinter Sacre and Sire De Grugy returning from injury with question marks the Champion Chase appears to be a 4 horse race. The grade 1 preps for this race - the Tingle Creek and the Clarence House Chases have been won in most impressive fashion by speedy chaser Dodging Bullets.. Of the Irish horses, Willie Mullins trains Supreme Novices 2013 winner Champagne Fever who was narrowly edged out by Western Warhorse in last year's Arkle (2m novice grade 1 chase). An outside chance after victory in The Game Spirit chase is Mr Mole whom has been subject to an outstanding training performance by Paul Nicholls to get him to grade race standard. In the World Hurdle, a very open and unfortunately underwhelming contest looks to be on offer. With Big Bucks retired, More of That edged out Annie Power in a thriller finish last year. More Of That could be out injured and Annie Power may take the penalty kick of the Mares Hurdle. In the same colours as Big Bucks representing the Stewart Family, Saphir De Rheu is favourite after reverting from chasing to staying hurdling and winning the Cleeve hurdle (deja vu?!). The ever popular Zarkandar is also trained by Nicholls and was edged out by Reve de Sivola in the Long Walk hurdle before Christmas. Champion Hurdler (2012) Rock On Ruby will be trying his hand at 3 miles having shown potential to stay the trip when winning the Relkeel Hurdle - the same race More Of That landed before going on to victory here last year.

Finally, the Gold Cup looks to be King George VI Chase 2013 and 14 winner Silviniaco Conti's to lose. His opposition will come from last year's 20/1 winner Lord Windermere, Hennessey Gold Cup winner Many Clouds and Lexus Chase winner Road To Riches. Carlingford Lough landed the Irish Hennessey the day after AP McCoy announced his retirement, and what better send off for the soon to be 20 times champion jockey than to land the most prestigious prize in National Hunt racing.

TL;DR Have fun over those 4 days. Best of luck with your bets.
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2020 Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle - Racing TV How To Claim £200 In Champions League Free Bets Cheltenham Festival 2020 Day 1 - All Finishes Cheltenham Festival Day 4 with Racing Post Live Altior wins the Supreme Novice Hurdle 2016

Nicholls has maintained last year’s Triumph winner is primarily being prepared for the Stan James Champion Hurdle, but a share of the £152,500 (€183,400) prize money on offer would not be Zarkandar can also boast some good efforts at Auteuil, finishing third behind Gemix in last year's Grande Course de Haies before giving the French champion a five-length beating when returning Zarkandar is a remarkably consistent horse; this was the sixth time in seven completed races in which I have awarded him a rating between 163 and 165. Other notable horses Rolling Star: 148n (2m 4yo Hurdle) – “n” denotes a rating for a novice, which have a lower ceiling than ratings earned in open company. If you’re looking for an outside bet on the 2012 Cheltenham Champion Hurdle you could do worse than sticking a few quid on Zarkandar who is currently around 8/1 for the event. Of course his competition is fierce with Hurricane Fly expected to romp home so I do suggest an each-way approach to your bet! Zarkandar Looking Good For Champion Hurdle Zarkandar did his chances in the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival no harm with victory in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury on Friday. It was a well-timed run from the 11/4 favourite as he stayed on better than anything else in the run-in to the line ahead of Get Me Out Of Here.

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2020 Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle - Racing TV

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