Bathwick Hurdle brings together stellar cast for vintage renewal at Wincanton
Today’s Bathwick Tyres Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton promises to be a vintage renewal, with Zarkandar, Binocular, Peddlars Cross and Raya Star among the 11 entries for the grade two contest run over two miles.
The 2011 JCB Triumph Hurdle winner Zarkandar, who was fifth in last season’s Stan James Champion Hurdle, is one of three entries for Somerset-based champion trainer Paul Nicholls.
The six-year-old made a winning return at Wincanton in November beating stable mate Prospect Wells by a neck and before going on to win the Stanjames.com International Hurdle at Cheltenham.
Nicholls said: “This is his final preparation race before the Champion Hurdle at the Festival. We’d obviously prefer better ground, but he’s won on similar going so we are not worried. Daryl Jacob is very much looking forward to riding him as he won on him at the Festival in 2011.”
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Nicholls has also entered Prospect Wells and Celestial Halo, who both have entries in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle at the Festival.
Last year’s winner Binocular is another entry. Nicky Henderson’s former Champion Hurdle winner romped home to an easy win in the 2012 Kingwell Hurdle, beating Celestial Halo by six lengths, and is on course for the Stan James Champion Hurdle at the Festival in which he finished fourth last year.
The gelding was one of three entries for Henderson, but leading Champion Hurdle hope Grandouet will not run, following the announcement that he has picked up a small injury. Khyber Kim, second to Binocular in the Champion Hurdle, is Henderson’s other entry.
Former Neptune Investments Novices’ Hurdle winner Peddlers Cross adds spice to the field. The winner of ten of his 14 starts, he was a disappointing favourite in the Jewson Novices’ Chase at the Festival last season, finishing down the field.
He had a pipe opener in a jumper’s bumper at Kempton in January and has Champion and World Hurdle entries.
The line-up is completed by Alan King’s Raya Star and Balder Success, Man of Leisure and Monte Cavallo.
The all-hurdle card gets under way at 1.20pm with the Bathwick Tyres Salisbury Novices’ Hurdle and among the entries is the highly regarded Cayman Islands who has several options at the Festival and the David Pipe-trained Unique De Cotte who runs in the colours of JP McManus.
Explaining the decision to abandon the chases, clerk of the course Barry Johnson said: “After walking the course with Richard Linley, the senior course inspector, it has been agreed to abandon the chase races.
“The chase course is waterlogged in places with various false patches and with the forecast has no chance of recovery before [today].”