It’s a funny old game. A fortnight ago Nigel Twiston-Davies’ stable star The New One was all set for his chasing debut at Exeter. A prolific winner over hurdles, including a Festival win in the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle in 2013, the Naunton trainer decided in the summer to send the eight-year-old over fences. Declared at Exeter last week, the cold weather forced the meeting to be abandoned with Twiston-Davies taking the decision to re-route The New One to the two-mile International hurdle at Cheltenham – a race he’d won in 2014 and 2015.
Many people have questioned The New One’s ability in the top races but his supporters never had a moments worry on Saturday as he coasted home by a comfortable three lengths from his old adversary My Tent or Yours.
His trainer paid tribute to the popular hurdler who was winning the race for the third consecutive year. He said: “We’ve now got horses at home that are faster than he is, which has never happened before, but the way we rode him, out in front, that’s what he wants. He’s an extraordinary horse, he cost me 20 grand and he’s now won over three-quarters of a million.”
The trainer suggested after the race that The New One might be aimed for another crack at the Champion Hurdle in March. He said: “He probably isn’t quite good enough now, but he certainly was three years ago when he was unlucky not to win. With different riding tactics and now he’s going straight, maybe he could do it.”
Twiston-Davies saddled another winner on the card after Wholestone made light work of his five rivals to land the Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle. Stepped up in distance the five-year-old crossed the line a length ahead of Ami Desbois and looks set to come back to the track for the race of the same name at The Festival in March.
It was a day to remember for the Twiston-Davies family with Nigel’s son Sam riding the Paul Nicholls trained Frodon to win the feature chase on the card – the £100,000 Caspian Caviar Gold Cup Handicap Chase. The jockey had missed almost two months of action with a bruised spleen and kidneys but showed no signs of rustiness when he booted home the 14/1 shot.