Another season of top-level hurdling awaits The New One after he successfully returned to his now familiar starting point at Kempton.
Not as visually impressive as in the previous williamhill.com Hurdle, when he blew away the former champion hurdler Rock On Ruby, Nigel Twiston-Davies’s 2-11 favourite fluffed the final flight this time around but picked up handily on the run-in to come two and a quarter lengths away from Hint Of Mint.
Last year’s victory led The New One to later finish an unlucky-looking third in the Champion Hurdle and gain another major prize at Aintree, and Twiston-Davies is already picking out a path towards those spring festivals.
With the stable in form – the trainer and his son Sam were combining for a 31-1 treble on the card – The New One was expected to win this easily and travelled smoothly behind a pace set by Australia Day.
Aside from the last, a flight he made a costly mistake over during the Christmas Hurdle, he did no more than was needed and was trimmed as a matter of routine by the race sponsors from 4-1 to 7-2 joint-favourite (unchanged at the same price with Paddy Power and Coral) for the Champion at Cheltenham in March.
“Let’s hope he keeps going, he’ll be a lot better later on,” said Twiston-Davies snr, who confirmed it was part of the agreement of his son’s departure to Paul Nicholls’ stable that he kept the ride.
“Luckily it was a weak race, but I’m chuffed to bits. That was just what we needed. They’ve put on a new race at Haydock (22 November) that we’ll look at, then December at Cheltenham (International).
“If everything goes well he could come back here at Christmas.
“It was unlucky that a horse fell in front of him in the Champion Hurdle. Hopefully this year will be his year.”
The day had started well for the pair when Fond Memory (5-1) made a good start over fences in the William Hill – In The App Store Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase, while Wood Yer (7-2 joint-favourite) went well for a 158-day break in the William Hill – Bet On The Move Handicap Chase.
On an interesting Sunday card, the other Listed event went to brothers Dan and Harry Skelton. Blue Heron (100-30) had done little wrong in a handful of previous starts and skipped four lengths away from John Ferguson’s 140-rated 9-4 favourite Parlour Games between the last two flights of the William Hill – On Your Mobile Novices’ Hurdle.
Harry Skelton said: “It’s Dan’s daughter’s first birthday today, so it’s a happy birthday winner for Florence!”
His assistant, Josh Guerriero, said: “He’s out of novices in November and Dan is thinking of trying to sneak him into the Greatwood (at Cheltenham).
“There’s no point taking on Grade One horses, as he’s probably not good enough for that.”
Stars Over The Sea made the most of his useful Flat ability to get off to a winning start in the National Hunt sphere.
Rated 99 on the level for Mark Johnston and now transferred to David Pipe by owner Roger Brookhouse, the 11-8 favourite landed the William Hill – In The App Store Juvenile Hurdle by six lengths with his head in his chest.
Stars Over The Sea was given speculative Triumph Hurdle quotes but was not exactly fluent at most of the obstacles.
“He’s not a natural, but he’ll get better,” said Pipe.
“We don’t normally get going until mid-November but I wanted to give him some experience.
“He has got a lot of improvement to make in his jumping and I suppose he’ll be out again in a few weeks.”
Queens Park Rangers manager Harry Redknapp did not make the journey across West London to see his horse Violet’s Boy (9-2) win the William Hill Exclusive Mobile Offers Handicap Chase – but the victory will have gone a little way towards cheering him up after an ill-deserved defeat by Liverpool at Loftus Road earlier in the day.