Author: Alan Kelly
Published: 10:28 10/11/2012
The 2012/2013 National Hunt season gets into full swing at this time of year, with every weekend between now and the festive period featuring at least one major race to whet the apetite. Next week sees Cheltenham's Open meeting, the highlight of which will be the Paddy Power Gold Cup, but today's quality action takes place at Wincanton when a number of top class chasers and hurdlers get their season underway.
At 2.50 Zarkandar will attempt to defy top weight in the totepool.com Elite Hurdle although the 5 year-old faces a tough task trying to concede lumps of weight to some talented rivals, the best of which may be the Alan King-trained Balder Succes, a best price 100/30 with Betfred and Coral.
The mount of Robert Thornton looked a serious prospect after winning his first four races over hurdles ( including on his debut at Auteuil ) and was strongly fancied to win the JCB Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham but the Goldneyev gelding came down at the 4th when well in contention.
Sent off 9/4 favourite to make amends in Punchestown's Grade 1 AES Champion Four Year Old Hurdle Balder Succes got no further than the first before unseating his rider, and starts the current campaign as still very much a horse with tremendous potential. If fully wound up on his seasonal reappearance the 16lb he receives from Zarkandar is sure to prove decisive.
The Badger Ales Trophy Handicap at 3.25 looks a seriously competitive affair but it is worth taking a chance with top weight Diamond Harry at Stan James's 17/2. Nick Williams's 9 year-old is a talented but fragile gelding, and the best time to catch the 2010 Hennessy Gold Cup winner is first time out. Noel Fehily's mount has won three times on his seasonal reappearance and despite having to concede weight all round has slipped to a mark 6lb less than when winning Newbury's famous handicap.
The Paul Nicholls-trained Michel Le Bon is lightly raced and much better than he was able to show last season, but the mount of Ruby Walsh may struggle to cope with Diamond Harry if that horse runs up to his very best form today.
Check our odds compare pages for the latest up-to-date odds on the 3.25 Wincanton at :