The New One primed for Champion Hurdle bid
Trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies reports The New One to be “100 per cent” ahead of his Chamnpion Hurdle bid, and believes he should be joint-favourite with unbeaten Irish raider Faugheen.
This seven-year-old gelding was considered unlucky by many last year when getting badly hampered before flying home to finish third to Jezki and is unbeaten in five races since.
The New One is currently 3/1 with Coral to gain compensation in the feature race on Tuseday, March 10th, and give Twiston-Davies his first winner in the race. Faugheen heads the market at 11/10.
Naunton handler Twiston-Davies, who is based just 10 miles from the track, came closest to landing the coveted prize when Khyber Kim finished runner-up to Binocular in 2010.
However, Twiston-Davies knows what it is like to taste big race success at National Hunt racing’s showpiece event having saddled Imperial Commander to land the Gold Cup in 2010, and believes The New One has all the right attributes to capture the Champion Hurdle.
Speaking at a recent media stable visit organised by Cheltenham Racecourse, Twiston-Davies said: “The New One is 100 per cent. It is a bit nerve-racking – we have got one week and five days before the race, I would like it to be tomorrow.
“The whole thing is easier than last year because he is not meant to win – the pressure is totally off. Two years ago, when he won the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle, he could not possibly win as two Irish horses were definitely going to win and The New One might as well not turn up. But he did and he won and that was quite pleasant.
“You could say the same thing with Denman and Kauto Star – Imperial Commander shouldn’t have turned up for the Gold Cup, but he did and won too. It is much nicer that way. My worst year was when Imperial Commander was favourite and then everything went wrong – that felt hard.
“The New One has done brilliantly this season. He and Faugheen haven’t been racing against championship horses, they have been beating also-rans very well – the one who sticks out is Hurricane Fly who has beaten good ones.”
The New One was made to work hard when scoring in a Grade 2 contest at Haydock last time out, but Twiston-Davies believes it was not a bad performance and his stable star is far better than what he showed at the Merseyside venue.
“It was terrible ground at Haydock last time and The New One was following a horse who was jumping to the right,” he continued. “When [son and jockey] Sam asked the New One to quicken, it took a little time but away he went as usual, despite hating every minute of it.
“Grade Ones are almost easier to win than Grade Twos in which you are giving 8lb to the other horses. He won well at Cheltenham in December and in all his races this season, apart from at Haydock, he has been on the bridle at the last hurdle and quickened away nicely – what more could you want?
“A horse does not become a bad jumper when he has jumped well all his life – he has only made three significant mistakes in his career – one at Kempton when he was beaten by My Tent Or Yours and that was a split or bust occasion at the last.
“You could argue The New One was 6lb below his best at Haydock on ground he positively hated – it wasn’t that bad.”
Twiston-Davies added: “We won’t be allowing Faugheen out of our sights. The New One quickens off any pace but there is no way we want the other horse to go off 10 lengths in front. Faugheen has done brilliantly but we can do as good. I think they should be joint-favourites.
“Faugheen is always going to be impressive because he takes up the running far earlier that we do. The New One lost eight to 10 lengths in the race last year and was stopped and had to start again. It is really hard work to do that. He was brought to a standstill and had to pick himself up and carry on.”