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Faugheen and The New One pass Champion Hurdle tests

Faugheen is now the clear favourite for the 2015 Champion Hurdle after toying with his rivals to land the Coral Hurdle at Ascot and extend his uneaten run over the obstacles to seven.

The Neptune winner made most of the running in the extended 2m 3f contest in the hands of Ruby Walsh, and despite getting in a bit close to several obstacles never made any serious mistakes.

The six-year-old was still hard on the bridle as they turned for home, at which point Blue Fashion tried to make a race of it.

However, Walsh never showed any semblance of panic and when he asked Faugheen for a big jump at the last the response was electric.

The son of Germany absolutely pinged it and then quickened effortlessly clear to win unextended by 3 3/4 lengths.

The manner in which Faugheen put the race to bed on testing conditions left little doubt that he is indeed a “machine” with a huge engine, and Coral cut him from 11/4 into 9/4 for the Champion Hurdle next March.

Even at this early stage, the Willie Mullins trained gelding looks a worthy favourite for the 2m showpiece on the opening day of the Festival, and connections were absolutely delighted with how he got the job done on his first start for 207 days.

Whilst Faugheen was strutting his stuff at Ascot, The New One was the star hurdler on show at Haydock and had little difficulty of landing odds of 1/3 to make it two out of two this season.

An unlucky third in the Champion Hurdle last season, the Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained gelding beat Zamdy Man with far more in hand the the winning margin of 2 3/4 lengths suggests.

The six-year-old jumped far better than usual, and effortlessly made up ground on the runner-up between the last two flights before storming clear on the run-in without being asked a serious question.

It was a solid peformace on very testing ground that was far from ideal, and winning jockey Sam Twiston-Davies believes there is better to come.

He said: “He probably wouldn’t want the ground as soft as it is, but his jumping was very good. You couldn’t get a much bigger thrill than with a horse like this. Hopefully he didn’t have too hard a race. A bit better ground, the world’s his oyster.”

Coral left The New One an unchanged 7/2 second favourite for the 2015 Champion Hurdle.