This Weekends Racing – Reviewed by The Sportsman Racing

The biggest betting heat of the day is the Betfair Hurdle – one of the richest hurdle races across Europe. It’s a wide open race with many holding claims to win. Paul Nicholls 2011 Triumph Hurdle winner Zarkandar makes a long awaited return to the track and deservedly heads the market at a best priced 3-1. Paul Nicholls loves this five-year-old exclaiming after he won the Triumph “he is my Hurricane Fly.” Zarkandar looks very well treated off a mark of 151 considering he beat Unaccompanied and Grandouet in the aforementioned Triumph Hurdle in March. A leggy, progressive hurdler the worry is Paul Nicholls comments that Zarkandar won’t be fully wound up on his Champion Hurdle prep race. Of the many dangers in the field, the one that catches my eye is Darlan with AP McCoy booked to take the ride. Darlan, a son of Milan, may be harshly handicapped but he could literally be anything. It’s notable McCoy could have ridden previous winner of this race – Get Me Out Of Here but has opted for Darlan. An exciting novice, Darlan is three from three over fences this season, open to plenty of progression and capable of enhancing Nicky Henderson’s impressive record in the race by going close at odds of 9-1. Long Run has an outstanding chance of getting back on the scoresheet in the Betfair Denman Chase. Since his marvellous Gold Cup victory last March the classy seven-year-old has found life harder as the champion rather than the pretender to the throne, having been defeated twice by the ageless Kauto Star. This is not a gimme for Long Run with the likes of What A Friend and Burton Port in opposition. Long Run will have no excuses however with the Nicky Henderson team having suffered no hold-ups with the weather and the long Newbury straight sure to play to Long Run’s strengths. In the 3m Novice Chase Grands Crus should get the job done. David Pipe’s grey stalwart has proved himself an oustanding novice chaser, enjoys the Newbury track and should be able to burn off his challengers here before the Pipe team face up to the million dollar question of whether to shoot for the stars and aim Grand Crus at the Gold Cup or stick to the RSA chase. The jumps at Perth In the Betfair Super Saturday Chase, previously the Game Spirit, the blood stirs at the prospect of witnessing Sprinter Sacre in action again. An outstanding novice chaser this big fella jumps like there’s no tomorrow, winging his way over the timber with no fears. A small field is expected but Sprinter Sacre faces a more than useful foe in Cue Card. Sprinter Sacre however demolished his main Arkle rival Peddlers Cross last time out and can also account for Cue Card on Saturday. Sunday witnesses a fine card at Leopardstown with the Hennessy Gold Cup being the feature race but if Exeter gets the green light then be sure to look out for Venetia Williams Pentiffic in the 2m3f handicap chase at 4.10. A dogged third in a Cheltenham Class 2 Chase at the tail end of January he drops to a class 3 and should be on the premises.]]>