Zarkandar - Champion Hurdle Contender 2013

Age: 6

Trainer: Paul Nicholls

Jockey: Daryl Jacob

Zarkandar burst into the limelight when winning the Adonis Juvenile Hurdle on his British debut and the Paul Nicholls-trained raider has not look back since and he duly followed up that victory at Kempton Park with a stunning performance in the 2011 Triumph Hurdle, where he got the better of the likes of Unaccompanied and Grandouet in a memorable renewal.

Having gone on to win at Aintree a month later, he then returned with a cracking win in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury, but he was unable to step up again and could only finish fifth in the 2012 Champion Hurdle, which was won by Rock On Ruby in a thrilling finish.

However, the six-year-old French-born star is expected to take his chance again on March 12 in the 2013 Champion Hurdle and he showed when winning the Elite Hurdle that he still possesses heaps of quality and he showed his battling qualities when getting the better of Grandouet and Rock On Ruby in the International Hurdle at Cheltenham in December.

Bookmakers were impressed with his guts and determination in that victory at Prestbury Park and with winning Cheltenham Festival form, the son of Azamour was cut in the 2013 Champion Hurdle Betting and will be one of the leading contenders for the Grade One crown on the opening day.

He further enhanced his claims when getting the better of Khyber Kim in the Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton to maintain his unblemished record for the season and he will certainly be a leading contender for the champion trainer, who aims for back-to-back victories in the race.

With stable jockey Ruby Walsh likely to opt to ride Hurricane Fly, Daryl Jacob could be handed the task of piloting the Ditcheat raider, but he has winning form on him before and will be an able deputy for a horse that relishes a battle up the famous Cheltenham hill.

Zarkandar Form

Check out the Latest Odds for Zarkandar for the 2013 Champion Hurdle.