Latest Horse Racing News – 29th February 2016

Nicholls Turns To Plan Z For Triumph Success

Prior to the weekend, the Triumph Hurdle was becoming the most infuriating of all the Cheltenham ante post contests. Due to a string of disappointing efforts from those towards the head of the market, the only runners to greatly enhance their claims were those not to have taken part in a recent trial at all. Champion trainer Paul Nicholls may have found the key to success however by turning to a plan that has worked for him once before. The plan involves travelling to the French yard of Alain de Roer-Dupre and purchasing a smart looking flat recruit whose name begins with the letter “Z”, then sending them out to saunter to success in the Adonis Hurdle. No doubt it isn’t quite as simple as all that but Zubayr appears to have every chance of following in Zarkandar’s illustrious footsteps. The career paths of the two runners are spookily similar to date, right down to the fact they were actually kept in the very same box at their French yard. Zubayr could hardly have been more impressive in landing the Adonis at Kempton on Saturday and there are likely to be plenty of takers of the 6/1 that he goes on to Triumph Hurdle glory.

Seeyouatmidnight was another to confirm his wellbeing headed into the Festival. Sandy Thompson’s eight-year-old did no more than expected in landing a three runner Class 2 Novice Chase at Newcastle, but at least confirmed he is in good heart at present and came out of the race unscathed. Highly enough thought of to have been considered for the Gold Cup, it is the RSA Chase which now appears to be his primary target. The presence of No More Heroes and More Of That make that a hot looking contest but he more than merits his place in the line-up. Sky Bet (now NRNB on all Festival races) rate him a 10/1 shot for that event which is likely to prove popular each way.

Theatre Guide looked potentially well in prior to the weekends big handicap, the Betbright Chase at Kempton. A mark of 139 was likely to prove lenient if Colin Tizzard’s runner returned to something like his best, and so it proved. Cue Card’s training partner sauntered to a 10 length success in what must rate a career best performance. The handicapper will bump him up considerably for this but he still can’t be ruled out of the Festival handicaps on this showing. The Ultima Business Solutions Handicap Chase looks his most likely target, for which he is now a 16/1 chance.