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Local Hero

Local Hero (red sleeves) has won his last two starts over hurdles

  PICTURE: Mark Cranham (  

Gollings' Hero out to fend off Nicholls trio

STEVE GOLLINGS is hopeful his fast-improving five-year-old Local Hero can get the better of the champion trainer's triumvirate of runners in the Grade 2 Elite Hurdle at Wincanton on Saturday.

Local Hero won two valuable summer handicap hurdles at Market Rasen in partnership with 7lb claimer Paul Bohan, who rides again on Saturday, and has been raised 11lb for those victories.

Nicholls, meanwhile, looks to have a strong grip on the race he has won twice in the last three years. Champion Hurdle fifth Zarkandar and the Ruby Walsh-partnered Prospect Wells first and second in the betting at 9-4 and 11-4 respectively. Nicholls also runs 33-1 outsider of the field Escort'men.

But undeterred, Gollings said: "I hope the rain stays away – good to soft would be fine. He doesn't look wintery in his coat and I couldn't be happier with him. He has been freshened up and his jumping is much better than when he was beaten twice by Zarkandar."

Local Hero, 6-1 for the Wincanton Grade 2, finished eighth and fifth behind Zarkandar in the two juvenile Grade 1s at the Cheltenham and Aintree festivals in 2011.

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