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Zaidpour race calendar axed

Willie Mullins has revealed that smart recruit Zaidpour will not see a racecourse this season after suffering a setback.

The former Alain Royer-Dupre inmate is a half-brother to last season's Triumph Hurdle hero Zaynar, and having been heavily backed for the same race in ante-post lists, Zaidpour had been as short as 14-1 for Festival glory.

While he is still in training, Mullins has decided to give this season a miss, with a view to retaining his novice status for the next campaign.

"He won't run this season now, unfortunately, as he got a cut while schooling on Monday and I won't be able to have him ready for the big races," said the champion trainer.

"He's in training now but we felt we might as well draw stumps for this season so he can be a novice next year."

Colm Murphy reports Voler La Vedette to be making good progress from a setback she suffered earlier this week.

Murphy had been targeting the Irish Champion Hurdle for his talented mare, but was forced to rule her out of the Grade One event after she pulled a muscle during exercise on Monday.

It had been hoped Sunday's race would tell connections whether to aim for the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham, but that now looks unlikely, with the David Nicholson Mares' Hurdle her probable destination.

"The physio has been to see her a couple of times and she's delighted with the progress she's made," said Murphy. "Thankfully it's not as serious as we first thought and we should be able to start riding her out again by the end of next week.

"I've not had a chance to have a proper look, but I'd imagine she'll go straight to Cheltenham and she will almost certainly go for the mares' race.

"If another suitable race came up between now and then we might have a look, but I'm not too concerned either way -- we might just give her a racecourse gallop somewhere."

Restless Harry, last seen finishing second in the Challow Hurdle to Reve De Sivola, is due to run at Cheltenham next weekend.

Robin Dickin's youngster will line up in the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle in preparation for a crack at the Festival in March.

"He's absolutely fine and hasn't missed a beat since Newbury, despite the weather," said Dickin, who trained Kadastrof in the late 1990s.

"I was thrilled with him in the Challow. It was a surprise because he wasn't well prepared for that run. We had been held up with ice and frost.

"I haven't even run him at the right trip yet -- just wait until he goes three miles. He is a very exciting horse and we're thrilled to bits to have him.

"A horse like this can make the difference. I thought I would never have another horse as good as Kadastrof, and I just might have.

"I would hope to run him at the Festival in March. If he were to run badly on Festival Trials Day, I would assume he had a problem."

Brian Ellison is eyeing a crack at the Fred Winter Juvenile Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival for his runner Bothy.

Trained on the Flat by Ralph Beckett, the son of Pivotal made the long trip from Ellison's North Yorkshire base to Taunton on Thursday to win in workmanlike style.

"He only does enough, that's just him, he would never do anything very flash," said Ellison. "He'll have one more run and then go to the Fred Winter. We sent him down there because he needs three runs to qualify. If we'd waited another week, you might leave it too late.

"He's a young horse and needs time between races, so we'll give him another run and then go to Cheltenham."

Ellison also has another smart juvenile in Ultimate, who bolted up by 22 lengths on his hurdling debut before finishing fourth at Cheltenham, for which he had a valid excuse.

"When he went to Cheltenham he pulled a shoe off at the start and when he came back he was sore for a week, yet he was still in front going to the last," Ellison said. "Some say he didn't get up the hill but I think it was purely the fact he pulled a shoe off.

"Ruby (Walsh) thought the ground beat him more than anything else, so he'll go to Musselburgh for the Triumph Hurdle Trial (February 7) and we'll take it one race at a time."


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