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14 Feb 2011 | 19:15
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Easy for Zarkandar in KingwellHeadlines
Zarkandar

Zarkandar enhanced his claims for the StanJames.com Champion Hurdle with a decisive defeat of a rejuvenated Khyber Kim in the Bathwick Tyres Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton to clinch a treble at his local course for champion trainer Paul Nicholls.

The 1-3 shot delighted Nicholls as he made it three wins from as many starts this season under Daryl Jacob.

He was in control from the second-last, although the four-and-a-half-length margin of victory would have been less had Khyber Kim not made a mistake at both of the last two flights.

The Champion Hurdle sponsors were impressed and cut him to 9-2 (from 5s) behind 13-8 favourite Hurricane Fly.

Nicholls said: "That was a proper job. I'm relaxed now that my horses have run well in the big trials, and they can't go quick enough for Zarkandar. The great thing about him is that he keeps finding, and we don't know how much more there is to come.

"The old course will suit him at the Festival and the softer it is, the better for him. That final hill at Cheltenham suits him, he will relish that."

Jacob said: "I gave him a nice blow before the last two and he picked up well, he's a real tiger."

Nicholls added that Jacob would ride Zarkandar unless anything happened to Ruby Walsh's mount Hurricane Fly. The trainer was also pleased with Celestial Halo, who now heads for the World Hurdle after finishing fourth.

Paddy Brennan had hopes of upsetting the winner on Khyber Kim rounding the home turn and said: "Swinging in I thought I would win. I gave him a blow and he just put down at the last. Mr Henderson has done a great job to get him back, and I think hell come on a ton for that."

Nicholls also struck with Benvolio (17-2) in the Bathwick Tyres Yeovil Handicap Hurdle and Minellahalfcentury (3-1) in the Bathwick Tyres Taunton Novices' Hurdle.

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