A two length defeat of the 138-rated Stephanie Frances in Kempton’s Listed williamhill.com Hurdle on Sunday afternoon by leading hurdler The New One – the third successive odds-on victory in the race for the Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained son of King’s Theatre – failed to impress even the seven-year-old’s most die-hard supporters, with yesterday’s sponsor pushing the gelding out to 20-1 ( from 16-1 ) for next year’s Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham festival.
An unlucky third when badly hampered in the 2014 renewal of the championship contest was followed by a disappointing fifth in March when ” totally wrong ” according to his trainer, a fact which is not expected to stop the horse having a third crack at the race dominated by Willie Mullins’ current unbeaten champion Faugheen who is no bigger than 5-4 with Ladbrokes and Coral to become the first to win the race two years in succession since Hardy Eustace in 2004/2005.
Following a break of 222 days both trainer and jockey ( Sam Twiston-Davies ) were more than satisfied with The New One’s performance, with the former saying: ” He’s never been bigger at this time of the year and the race was run at a bit of a dawdle, but he was very quick over the last two and we’re chuffed to bits. His programme will be just as it was last season, so he’ll go to Haydock again and then to Cheltenham for the International.”
Explaining the horse’s lack-lustre effort at Cheltenham seven month’s ago Twiston-Davies went on to say: ” In the Champion Hurdle he was beaten eight lengths by one of the best champions, and he was totally wrong that day. He’s not straightforward and has had problems with his feet, but that’s all sorted and hopefully it’s onwards and upwards.”
At 10-1 ( Ladbrokes, Coral and William Hill ) Nicky Henderson’s Triumph Hurdle winner Peace And Co is the only British-trained horse currently at a shorter price than The New One in the Champion Hurdle ante-post market dominated by Willie Mullins who, as well as being responsible for the short priced market leader, has plenty of other options in Arctic Fire ( 12-1 Ladbrokes ), Douvan ( 14-1 Betway ) and Nichols Canyon ( 16-1 Bet365, Skybet and William Hill ).