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Zay chasing World supremacy

Connections of Zaynar hope the grey can repeat last year's victory in the Coral Hurdle at Ascot on Saturday on the way to bigger things this season.

The World Hurdle at Cheltenham in March is the ultimate objective for Nicky Henderson's charge, who has already made his mark at the Festival, winning the Triumph in 2009 and finishing third in the Champion Hurdle last term.

“Zaynar is bigger and stronger this season, and we are also hoping that he is a fair bit better too,” said co-owner Victor Chandler.

“He is currently on target for Ascot on Saturday and we would be more than hopeful he can repeat last season's victory in the race.

“Plans are fluid but we would perhaps follow a similar route to last season with the Relkeel Hurdle at Cheltenham in December again on his agenda, before we look for another prep race ahead of the Cheltenham Festival.

“Zaynar's main aim this season will be the World Hurdle where we believe the step up to three miles will suit him very well.

“Big Buck's is going to be a tough nut to crack but the hope is that Zaynar will make steady progress and give him all he can handle at Cheltenham.”

Afsoun, third in the 2007 Champion Hurdle and runner-up in this race later that year when trained by Henderson, could have his first run over jumps since joining Neil King's Newmarket team.

The eight-year-old, purchased at the Doncaster May Sales, also holds an entry in a two-mile handicap hurdle on Friday's card and is fit from a recent run on the Flat.

“We're keen to go the two-and-a-half-mile route,” said King.

“That's the way I would like to go, but I would like to have a proper look at both races first.

“He's in great form and we are very excited about it.”

Won In The Dark was just a short head behind Zaynar when fourth in the Aintree Hurdle in April, but soft ground could scupper his participation on Saturday.

“The owners are very keen to go and we are looking for nice ground if we can get it,” said County Kildare-based trainer Sabrina Harty.

“It looks like he's going to go but there is a fair bit of rain forecast. I just hope we'll get some decent ground.”

Belfast Telegraph