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Thursday 14 December 2017

Arzal appeared unlucky not to be in the real thick of things at Newbury but he can gain full compensation in the William Hill Imperial Cup Handicap Hurdle at Sandown.

Arzal appeared unlucky not to be in the real thick of things at Newbury but he can gain full compensation in the William Hill Imperial Cup Handicap Hurdle at Sandown.

Lining up in the Betfair Hurdle, the Harry Whittington-trained Arzal was not unfancied despite his novice status and after struggling to take up his customary role near the head of affairs, he suffered some ill fortune as he was badly hampered by a faller and had to take serious evasive action.

That he stayed on again towards the finish is certainly to his credit, especially as such a relatively inexperienced horse could well have had the wind truly taken out of his sails by such a mishap.

He kept on to claim sixth and while it would be hard to say he could have won, he can certainly be counted as better than the bare form suggests.

Arzal had won one of his previous three hurdles outings, with his third place behind Supreme hope Jollyallan reading particularly well, and his current mark of 139 certainly looks workable.

Whittington again has Paul O'Brien in the plate to take off a valuable 7lb and the duo can triumph to line up a possible £100,000 bonus should he go on to win in one of his Festival engagements next week.

Nicky Henderson along with owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede face an important few days at Cheltenham and Aigle De La See can ensure they go there in high spirits by landing the European Breeders' Fund William Hill "National Hunt" Novices' Handicap Hurdle Final.

This French recruit boasts a 100 per cent record for Henderson, winning each of his two starts this term after failing to score in 10 attempts in his native country.

He impre ssed when seeing off previous dual winner Monbeg Theatre at this track in January before following up in commanding style in a qualifier for this event at Ffos Las last month.

That was not the strongest event but his 10-length verdict was impressive enough and he should more than hold his own in better company. Henderson can also strike with Robins Reef in the EBF Stallions/TBA Mares' Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race as while she disappointed at Listed level on her Huntingdon bow back in December, she showed the benefit of that with a wide-margin win last time.

Mindurownbusiness looks a likely type for Roger Varian in the Ladbrokes Lincoln Trial Handicap at Wolverhampton.

Trained by David Simcock until the end of last term, the four-year-old has seemed refreshed by a change of scenery following his 85,000 guineas sale at Tattersalls last autumn.

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