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Betfair Hurdle Betting Preview


A thrilling day of racing is upon us at Newbury on February 11 and one of the big highlights is going to be Paul Nicholls promising jumper Zarkandar lining up for his seasonal debut with an eye firmly-fixed on a festival campaign. With just a single run under his belt last season (a victory at Kempton in the Grade 2 Adonis Juvenile Hurdle), Zarkandar was able to score in the JCB Triumph Hurdle and the Matalan 4-Y-O at Aintree just a few weeks later.


Impressive in both victories and still looking very much like Paul Nicholls is still yet to scratch the surface of his talent, the promising hurdler is listed as low as 10/3 for the upcoming clash against some of the most promising young geldings on the circuit.

It will be especially interesting to see how he does against contenders who have had more or less the bulk of a season under their belts but Nicholls is known for getting his runners sharp and will have him ready to go despite the lack of a prep race for this one. Seeing how he was able to replicate a similar schedule last year should imbue punters with a sense of additional confidence.

There are a few spoilers in here though, who are certainly keen to take the gloss off of Zarkandar's undefeated performances over hurdles. Chief among them is Darlan, who can be found as low as 6/1 with several bookmakers. He's undefeated and has had three winning outings this season. Sent out as the betting favourite in each attempt, he's trained by Nicky Henderson and owned by JP McManus. He is emerging off the novice circuit and will need to run his best race to tackle the likes of Zarkandar.

Raya Star is hovering around the 8/1 margin but can be seen as high as 10/1. Not quite as accomplished as some of the others in here he has still strung together two victories from three this season with the sole loss coming to Rock On Ruby, who is also expected to line up in this one. He hasn't taken a substantial amount of money for any of his recent victories but he has showed plenty of acumen in the pass and knows his way around a hurdles course, though his loss to Rock On Ruby did come at Newbury.

Soldatino is taking some money for this one as well and is one of the others using this one as a springboard to festival time. He conquered the JCB Triumph Hurdle back in 2010 but has done little since with his three subsequent runs last year all being very forgettable. He's a real roll of the dice based on that record but has won off the lay-off before.

Rock On Ruby trades at a competitive price for this one and, should he line up, you can expect him to really step it up having just been bested by the talented Binocular in his last outing. Beaten by just a 1/4 of a length, he should have much more in the tank for this one and could be dangerous if Nicholls points him here.