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Vaniteux value to land International Hurdle at Cheltenham

Vaniteux can make the most of the weight he receives from The New One to land today’s International Hurdle at Cheltenham (3.10) and enhance his Champion Hurdle claims.

The Nicky Henderson trained gelding has only had five starts over hurdles, winning twice and finishing a cracking third of 18 to Vautour in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Festival here on his final start last season.

The five-year-old stayed on well in the latter to be beaten 6 1/2 lengths, and it was an effort which suggested Vaniteux should have plenty more to offer this season.

Vaniteux confirmed that impression on reappearance over course and distance in the Greatwood Hurdle when runner-up to Garde La Victoire under top weight of 11st 12lb.

The son of Voix Du Nord travelled like much the best horse throughout the contest on the worst of the ground on the inside, and after a mistake four out stayed on well to go down by just over a length.

To me he lost little in defeat on his first run in 250 days on very testing conditions, and if he had raced wide with the main pack the result may well have been different.

Vaniteux is sure to come on a bundle for that outing, and although his current rating of 154 is 13lb inferior to The New One he receives a handy 8lb from Nigel Twiston-Davies’ crack hurdler.

That means Vaniteux only has 5lb to find, and given his lightly-raced and unexposed profile that looks a distinct possibility as there should be plenty more to come.

The New One sets a very high standard, as his odds-on status suggests, and is bidding to win back-to-back runnings of the contest.

The six-year-old has won nine of his 13 starts over hurdles, and is currently Coral’s 7/2 second favourite for the 2015 Champion Hurdle.

The son of King’s Theatre looked an unlucky loser when finishing third in last year’s Champion to Jezki, getting badly hampered by the fall of the ill-fated Our Conor before staying on strongly to be beaten just 2 3/4 lengths.

The New One went on to gain some sort of compensation when beating Rock On Ruby by a head in the Grade 1 Aintree Hurdle, and looked as good as ever on seasonal reappearance when cruising to a facile 2 1/4 length success at Kempton.

The Nigel Twiston-Davies trained gelding then had little difficulty following up in a valuable 2m contest at Haydock last month, where he only had to be driven out to beat Zamdy Man by 2 3/4 lengths.
However, that race represented a simple task and didn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know about The New One and he now faces opposition of a different calibre.

I think this year’s renewal is stronger than the one that The New One won 12 months ago by six lengths from Zarkandar, and I am still not totally convinced by his jumping.

So at the odds on offer, Vanituex looks decent value to claim his scalp and put himself in line for a crack at the Champion Hurdle next March for which he is currently 20/1 with Coral.