|Dildar fails to impress despite winning hurdles debut|
Champion trainer Paul Nicholls was expecting his hurdling newcomer Dildar to win at Taunton on January 31, and win he did by a length-and-a-quarter from Sew On Target. There is though some way to go before the former useful French Flat performer can be considered a realistic contender for the Grade 1 JCB Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham in March, writes Elliot Slater.
Both Nicholls and his stable jockey Ruby Walsh (who rode Dildar to victory), were highly enthusiastic about the success of the 8/15 favourite, a horse who won one of his five starts on the level in his native France and ran with particular distinction when beaten just five-lengths by the subsequently brilliant Epsom Derby winner Pour Moi in the Group 2 Prix Greffulhe at Saint Cloud in May. Anyone looking ahead to Betfair Cheltenham 2012 racing will be wondering if he can reach these heights again.
Purchased in a private deal for an undisclosed amount of the yard of Alain de Royer-Dupre recently, the form Aga Khan-owned son of Red Ransom will surely have cost his new owner Mrs Johnny de la Hey a very pretty penny, but to the eyes of this observer at least, didn't look anywhere near the finished article in having to be niggled along at various stages of the Taunton contest and also jumping somewhat sketchily at times. Those following the horse race betting will not have been impressed.
Clearly blessed with a decent engine and entitled to improve for this first run in eight months, Dildar reportedly did everything Nicholls expected of him and is now likely to be stepped up in grade to tackle the Adonis Hurdle at Kempton in February, a race won by his stable companion and subsequent Triumph Hurdle hero Zarkandar in 2011. Bookmakers cut Dildar to a best priced 12/1, odds that look on the short side on the balance of what he achieved on the track at Taunton as opposed to his glowing reputation.