Paul Nicholls insists it should be of no concern to Zarkandar's supporters that jockey Ruby Walsh has once again chosen to side with Hurricane Fly in the Stan James Champion Hurdle.
Walsh, the stable jockey to both Nicholls and Willie Mullins, rode Zarkandar to win the International at Cheltenham earlier in the season, but deserted him in the last Champion in favour of the defending champion Hurricane Fly.
In the end, he managed to finish third, with Zarkandar fifth, but both Nicholls and Mullins believe their respective charges are different horses this time around. Daryl Jacob is to take over on the former Triumph winner, having helped him through his final trial in the Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton.
"I don't look at it as Ruby deserting us, he was always going to ride Hurricane Fly. If, God forbid, anything happened to Hurricane Fly then Ruby is the stable jockey and he'd step in on Zarkandar. But they both get on well with the horse, they are both great lads and it won't be an advantage to have either Daryl or Ruby on board."
Nicholls paraded Zarkandar at his stables on Wednesday and is pleased to have enjoyed a clear and unbeaten run with the gelding. He is one of a trio jostling for position as second favourite behind Hurricane Fly.
"He had a tiny fracture in a hind leg last year, we had to rush to get him back for the Betfair Hurdle, which he won, but he was nowhere near himself in the Champion Hurdle last year," Nicholls said.
"He's in a great place now, and I'd like to see the ground on the slow side for him as the Champion Hurdle course is a lot sharper than the other course. He loves Cheltenham and I'd say there's not a lot between Hurricane Fly, my lad, Rock On Ruby and, possibly, Grandouet."
Wonderful Charm heads to Kempton on Saturday for a racecourse gallop ahead of the Coral Cup, but a decision has not been made on the Cheltenham participation of last week's Reynoldstown winner Rocky Creek.
Nicholls said: "If it's testing, Rocky Creek could go for the RSA Chase, but he's a horse I want to look after and I might ask Andy Stewart and David Johnson if I can just mind him."
Unioniste may take his place in the RSA, while Sanctuaire will have another attempt at conquering the apparently unbeatable Sprinter Sacre in the Queen Mother Champion Chase.
25 May 2015Fire lit up for Redcar gold run
Park set for Epsom 'sighter'
Karpino oozes class in Cologne
Limato set for Haydock weekend run
Limato set for Haydock weekend run
Moviesta pleases in Curragh spin
French ace Chop in line for Ascot
Pretty target for Tamadhor
Leisure date for Lucky
Prince to step up
Cirrus likely to bypass Epsom
Ascot option for Devonshire
Prolific Robin in foal
Ramone delights Farrell
Moore set for Shamal ride
O'Brien still has Derby puzzle
Air Force has lift-off on debut
Guineas glory for Pleascach
More Curragh Gold for Kazeem
Curvy holds off Canaletto
Super Solow takes Longchamp prize
Varian pleased by Belardo effort
Dirty scope blamed for Byron run
Ascot test for Time
24 May 2015Full steam ahead for Mast return
Mustajeeb sprints to it
Pearl's a sprint jewel for Barron
Tate springs Listed surprise
First Ascot chance for Crisford
Glen best miler we've had - O'Brien
Exciting options for Simcock ace
Muta grabs Bowl with late charge
No decision on replacement - McCoy
Harrington bids for Guineas glory
23 May 2015Mustajeeb sprints to it
Big-race options for Corsican team
Gagarin in orbit for Gallinule
Tudhope back for Force mount
Luck be a Lady for Burke
Gleneagles tees off at Curragh
Stars dazzles at Goodwood
Dettori receives golden ticket
Tudhope suffers Haydock blow
Gatsby in great form for Gold run
O'Brien banking on Found progress
Sole seeking home success
Remote makes Festival return
Force back for Temple test
22 May 2015Paris in Sandown shake-up
Ivawood targets Guineas revenge
Brooch aiming to sparkle again
Dods hoping Angel can soar
Cumani hangs fire as Dubai dazzles
Dods hoping for Angel delight
Epicuris team seek dispensation
Treve buzzing for Corrida comeback
No going concerns for Gatsby
Gleneagles spearheads Guineas field
Power to stay in Ireland
Muthmir earmarked for Haydock date