15.05 Aintree: Compensation awaits for The New One
The New One is long odds-on to land what doesn’t look the strongest renewal of the Aintree Hurdle, and everything suggests he is a worthy favourite to get back to winning ways following a luckless third in the Champion Hurdle.
Nigel Twiston-Davies’ star hurdler was badly hampered by the fall of the ill-fated Our Conor at the Cheltenham Festival, and lost several lengths at a vital stage before staying on strongly to be beaten just 2 3/4 lengths by Jezki.
The way he finished off the contest suggested that he would have gone close to winning granted a cleanly run race, and with the winner and runner-up My Tent or Yours absent in this 2m 4f contest his form looks head and shoulders above that of his rivals.
The six-year-old, who won last year’s Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle before finishing runner-up to Zarkandar in this contest, had looked better than ever heading into Cheltenham.
He thrashed Rock On Ruby by 10 lengths on the bridle on his reappearance at Kempton, and followed up with a six length win over Zarkandar in the International Hurdle at Cheltenham before going down by just 1/2 a length to My Tent Or Yours in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton.
The son of King’s Theatre looked an unlucky loser in the latter, as he made a bad mistake at the last and lost vital momentum before rallying strongly.
This race looks the easiest he has run in all season, and it will be a major surprise if he doesn’t land the odds.
The main dangers according to the betting are Rock On Ruby and Diakali.
The former is reverting back to hurdles following just three runs over fences, and won the Champion Hurdle in 2012 before finishing runner-up to Hurricane Fly in 2013.
However, Harry Fry’s 10-year-old was comprehensively out gunned by The New One when they met at Kempton back in October and it’s hard to see him turning the tables.
Diakali is trained in Ireland by Willie Mullins and ran well to finish fourth to Lac Fontana in the County Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
He had previously finished a fair third to Jezki in the Grade 1 Hatton’s Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse, and on that run could be the one to chase home The New One.