Zarkandar on track as coughing scare fails to faze Nicholls
Last updated at 10:48 PM on 29th February 2012
Zarkandar and Harry The Viking, two of the worst effected in the coughing scare which hit the Paul Nicholls’ stable, are ‘back in their normal routine’ according to the champion trainer.
Unbeaten Zarkandar, 5-1 second favourite for the Champion Hurdle after last month’s Betfair Hurdle win at Newbury, was back on the gallops yesterday as any residual fears that the coughing outbreak would disrupt the Nicholls Festival challenge appeared to evaporate.
Looking good: Harry The Viking, jockey Daryl Jacob and Sir Alex Ferguson after victory at Doncaster in December
Nicholls said: 'Zarkandar was cantering this morning and, like Harry The Viking, is back in the normal routine. He was the worst effected and you would not have believed he ould been able to run at Cheltenham.'
Harry The Viking, who runs in the colours of Sir Alex Ferguson, is 8-1 second favourite for the four-mile National Hunt Chase.
HARRY'S CUP BLOW
Diamond Harry's chances of making the Gold Cup field look slim after owner Paul Duffy revealed that his injury-prone chaser has a leg infection.
Duffy said: ‘He is being treated with poultices. We haven’t given up on running but it is only fair to let everyone know.’
Meanwhile, Betfred cut the odds of Nicholls-trained Ulck Du Lin to 14-1 for the Fred Winter Juvenile Novices' Hurdle.
He becomes the first French import to take part in the race without previously running in Britain.
However, Nicholls denied the ploy was part of a masterplan to take advantage of a lenient handicap rating.
Nicholls, who intends sending 2008 Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle winner Crack Away Jack back over fences in the Byrne Group Plate as well as saddling novice Toubab in the Grand Annual Chase, added: 'He came over late and could be well handicapped but it’s not a plot.'
Meanwhile Alan King says it is unlikely Harry Redknapp-owned Bygones In Brid will take up his entry in the Neptune Investment Novices’ Hurdle even if he wins at Taunton on Thursday.
The trainer believes Vendor, his 9-2 favourite in the Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle, could be ‘well in’. King, who has fellow juvenile hurdler Balder Succes and Grumeti high in the Triumph Hurdle betting, added: ‘I think he could be as good as the other two.’
* Sam Waley-Cohen, who will defend his Gold Cup crown on Long Run, has been booked for Nick Williams-trained, Reynoldstown Chase-third Alfie Spinner in the National Hunt Chase.
* Cheltenham managing director Edward Gillespie has told box holders in parts of the Cheltenham complex due for redevelopment, that it will be three Festivals before any changes are made.