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  • 14:30 Matalan Anniversary 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle 2m 110y

  • (Grade 1) £100,000 added 4yo 9 ran
  • Winner £56,520 2nd £21,310 3rd £10,650 4th £5,320
  • Going: Good to Soft, Soft in places
  • Surface: Turf
    Weighed In
  • Winning time: 4m 2.70s
  • Off time: 14:32:52

Zarkandar battles to victory

Nicholls ace does it the hard way

Last Updated: 08/04/11 1:53pm

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Zarkandar: Aintree winner

Zarkandar: Aintree winner

Zarkandar (4-6 favourite) battled to success in the Matalan Anniversary 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle at Aintree.

Paul Nicholls' juvenile was perhaps fortunate as Grandouet (3-1) was travelling exceptionally well when brought down by Palawi at the second last.

That dramatic incident left Kumbeshwar (11-1) in front but Ruby Walsh drove Zarkandar into the lead jumping the last and the pair worked hard for a length and a quarter success.

Kumbeshwar finished second with Houblon Des Obeaux (28-1) 29 lengths further back in third.

Winning part-owner Chris Giles said: "He was a bit lazy, but we got there. The race was set up to stop him getting his usual run, so he had to work hard.

"He just needed a bit of help, but he stayed on well."

Winning jockey Ruby Walsh added: "He's a laid-back type and I was riding him along, but I knew I had a bit of horse left when I really wanted to go.

"When I jumped the last and gave him a squeeze, he's gone a length or two up and then just idled and pulled up.

"He's tough, an accurate jumper and a real little professional. He has class from his pedigree and a great attitude to go with it.

"He has to go towards the Champion Hurdle, that's the natural progression. He'll have to improve again from four to five to get up to that level, but he's showing all the right signs."

Winning trainer Paul Nicholls said: "He's done really well to get here as he had a huge abscess in his mouth and Clifford (Baker, head lad) has to bathe it and lance it.

"Obviously, for a couple of days, he wouldn't have been feeling great, he's got to be a very tough horse.

"I thought he looked a bit light in the paddock and didn't travel so well during the race. He'll be ready for a nice break now."

Alan King said of the runner-up: "You've got to be delighted with that, it was a serious performance and he keeps getting better.

"We'll see how he is but I'd say it will be Punchestown or nowhere. Knowing the horse, he'll bounce back straight away."

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