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Last Updated: 09/11/12 12:49pm
Zarkandar: Working well at home ahead of Elite Hurdle at Wincanton
Daryl Jacob is looking forward to getting the leg-up on Zarkandar at Wincanton on Saturday as he aims to give lumps of weight and a beating to some talented rivals in the totepool.com Elite Hurdle.
The five-year-old gave Jacob his first taste of Cheltenham Festival glory when landing last year's Triumph Hurdle.
And while Ruby Walsh was in the saddle when he won last season's Betfair Hurdle at Newbury, Jacob was back on board to guide him to fifth place in the Champion Hurdle.
"It's a nice starting point for him and hopefully he'll run a nice race," said Jacob.
"He's in good form at home and his schooling has been good, so I'm very much looking forward to riding him again.
"He obviously has to give a lot of weight away, but he is the class horse in the race."
Champion trainer Paul Nicholls feels his charge may come on for the run, with next month's International Hurdle at Cheltenham his major early-season target.
"He had a good season and a bad season in some ways last season. I had trouble with him in the autumn and then he came out and won the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury," Nicholls told At The Races.
"Then he was coughing and he ran OK in the Champion Hurdle, but he wasn't really right and fell the next day. We've got to get his jumping back and he's a typical Flat horse as he thinks about that fall, but he's going OK.
"We might aim for the International at Cheltenham in December and obviously aim him at the Champion Hurdle.
"If we've lost pace and he's not jumping well enough we might have to think of stepping him up in trip, but he's one of those who never shows you a lot at home but he's good on the track.
"It might just take a run to get him sharp again, so Wincanton will be a stepping-stone to Cheltenham."
Nicholls also saddles Prospect Wells, the mount of Ruby Walsh, and the Ryan Mahon-ridden Escort'men.Trainer Tom George is hoping a return to a flatter track can help Baby Mix show his true potential.
George said: "He has won at Cheltenham but perhaps now you could say that wasn't the strongest form and he got away with it on the wrong track, as he hasn't run well there since.
"I don't know whether he just hasn't been acting round Cheltenham or whether we need to look at different options.
"We'll know a bit more about him after the weekend."
The Alan King-trained Balder Succes won on his first three starts over hurdles in Britain last season, but failed to complete in the major juvenile events at the Cheltenham and Punchestown Festivals in the spring.
"Balder Succes is arguably our most exciting runner this weekend," the Wiltshire handler told his website, www.alankingracing.co.uk.
"He runs in the Elite Hurdle, and, though he had a setback six weeks ago which left me thinking that he would not be ready in time, he has come to hand quicker than we could have hoped, and he schooled on Thursday, so off we go.
"He was unbeaten until those mishaps at Cheltenham and Punchestown, so we do not know how good he is."
David Arbuthnot's Topolski was largely disappointing last term, but the trainer is hopeful of better from his charge this season.
"He had a few problems last year but he seems to be over those now and he seems happy and well in himself," said Arbuthnot.
"He's quite a difficult horse to gauge, fitness wise.
"I ran him first time back after a break a couple of years ago thinking he'd need the run and he went and won by seven lengths.
"My feeling is he will come on for the run on Saturday, but he wouldn't be too far off right.
"It's a nice race to run him in as I didn't really want to start him off in a big field handicap somewhere.
"I wanted to get him out in a nice, small field so he could build up his confidence.
"If he can run a nice race I'll be happy."