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.
28 September 2016Mecca's Angel heads British possibles for Abbaye test
Almanzor taken out of Arc reckoning
Willie Mullins announces Gigginstown House Stud split
JP McManus pair in the frame for Tipperary test
'I lost over £1million - and just in one race. I was winning going to the last'
'All systems go' for Harzand as Arc raid takes shape for Dermot Weld
Nicky Henderson takes the long road to Tipperary with Hargam
Charlie Fellowes pulls off Fairyhouse coup with big gamble Moonlit Show
Fair Eva conqueror Spain Burg to go under the hammer
Adrian Keatley checks in for Concorde Stakes with Jet Setting
Jim Bolger to resist Dollar cash with Dundalk-bound Qatari Hunter
Minor setback forces Magical Memory into early winter break
Ascot still top of Almanzor agenda despite featuring in Arc field
Trip To Paris in contention for Cadran outing at Chantilly
27 September 2016Brian Meehan plays waiting game with Cambridgeshire hero Spark Plug
Dandy Nicholls leaning towards Ascot with white-hot sprinter Kimberella
Frankie Dettori hunting Arc mount after Fascinating Rock is ruled out
'He was nearly picking them up and putting them over the line'
Waterlogging claims Ayr card
Scrutineer floors Danzeno in Hamilton feature
Marracudja gets Paul Nicholls and Ditcheat Thorougbreds off to winning start
Long Distance Cup remains on the agenda for Forgotten Rules
Munster National to honour memory of JT McNamara
Shalaa pencilled in for weekend return at Ascot
'Magnificent Seven' heaven sent for proud Frankie Dettori
Henry Candy sets sights on Chantilly with Limato
Alice Springs and Persuasive in line for rematch in Sun Chariot at Newmarket
Christophe Soumillon receives Silverwave Arc call-up at Chantilly
26 September 2016Precautionary inspection called for Ayr Tuesday card
Colin Tizzard delight at arrival of horses for Alan and Ann Potts
Only Mine signed off for the season by Joe Murphy
Charlie Fellowes hopes Moonlit Show can shine at Fairyhouse
Jarlath Fahey to delay Cesarewitch call with Jennies Jewel
Willie Mullins wants swift resolution to Faugheen 'investigation'
Salisbury Wednesday fixture loses one-mile race
Hamilton Monday card gets go-ahead
Setback rules La Cressonniere out of Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe
Dermot Weld has Tuesday workout plans for Arc hope Harzand
Jim Bolger has Gold Cup dreams for Twilight Payment after Loughbrown Stakes
Aidan O'Brien lines up three-pronged attack on Arc
Capri continues Beresford Stakes domination for Aidan O'Brien
Happy days for Aidan O'Brien in Renaissance Stakes
Classic-winning trainer Tommy Stack to retire at the end of the year
Eziyra puts Classic claims with Curragh success
Wesley Ward finds possible reason for Lady Aurelia Newmarket reverse
25 September 2016Rain threat to Hamilton card on Monday
Dermot Weld has Tuesday workout plans for Arc hope Harzand
Ed Dunlop plays the long game with Red Verdon
Richard Fahey retains faith in vanquished Frankel filly Queen Kindly
One-mile race at Salisbury in jeopardy on Wednesday
Owen Burrows calls time on Massaat season
Henry de Bromhead has chasing in mind for Identity Thief
Ed Vaughan heads to Ascot with Mehronissa
Arc favourite Postponed pleases in Saturday workout
Spark Plug fires up for Cambridgeshire glory at Newmarket
The Last Lion sparks Group One celebrations for birthday boy Joe Fanning
Cheveley Park first for Aidan O'Brien as Brave Anna tops Lady Aurelia
Hugo Palmer has Derby dream for Best Of Days
Paul Hanagan speculation news to me - Angus Gold
Capri leads Aidan O'Brien's four-strong challenge on Beresford heat
Perle De La Mer seeks to sparkle in Park Stakes date
Forgotten Rules aiming to issue Loughbrown reminder