Nicholls holds strong Triumph hand

Paul Nicholls could have three leading contenders in the JCB Triumph Hurdle after Zarkandar added his name to the trainer’s hopes for the juvenile championship with an eyecatching debut win at Kempton.

Paul Nicholls could have three leading contenders in the JCB Triumph Hurdle after Zarkandar added his name to the trainer’s hopes for the juvenile championship with an eyecatching debut win at Kempton.

The French import, a half-brother to 2008 Arc de Triomphe winner Zarkava, is a leading Nicholls fancy for the Triumph along with stablemate Brampour and possibly Sam Winner.

“The win surprised me. Although he goes really nicely at home now, I thought he would need more time and experience,” the Ditcheat handler told Betfair.

“But he was very impressive – the time was very decent in the ground, too - and he now goes straight for the Triumph. We left plenty to work on going to Kempton and better ground will suit him, too.

“We now look to have a very strong hand in the Triumph. Brampour flew in his work yesterday and is an improving animal, and of course we also have Sam Winner, who beat the current Triumph Hurdle favourite Grandouet by 15 lengths at Cheltenham in November, albeit getting 8lb.

“I have said in the past that we also have the Supreme as an option for Sam Winner, but I won’t make any decision until I sit down with Mrs Yeoman (owner). It’s nice to have two options for him, though.”

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