NIGEL Twiston-Davies is adamant The New One has the artillery to snub out a strong Irish challenge in the Champion Hurdle.
The Naunton handler came out fighting at Cheltenham on Saturday after the high-class six-year-old claimed back-to-back renewals of the StanJames.com International Hurdle.
The New One faces a much sterner test next March when ante-post favourite Faugheen and last year’s Champion Hurdle winner Jezki stand in his way.
But Twiston-Davies remains bullish his star inmate can go two places better than last year when he was an unlucky third. He said: “Just because he’s British, it doesn’t mean he’s not very good. I may be wrong, but all Faugheen’s form is over further – does he have the turn of foot like this horse? Hopefully he’ll give us a nice tow into the race and we’ll gently quicken past him!”
Options for The New One are now thin on the ground, but there is a slim possibility he could clash with Faugheen in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton on Boxing Day.
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“I wouldn’t be scared of taking on Faugheen but it comes quick enough after this,” said the Naunton handler.
He added: “The only other option is Wincanton.”
Rock On Ruby returned to winning ways in the Grade Two Osborne House Relkeel Hurdle over an extended two and a half miles. The 2012 champion hurdler ably delivered as the 5-4 favourite with a pretty authoritative effort under Noel Fehily.
Trainer Harry Fry said: “I won’t make a commitment yet over the World Hurdle. There’s a race over a similar distance as this back here on New Year’s Day and we’ll come back for that first.”
Niceonefrankie turned the usually competitive Caspian Caviar Gold Cup into a procession, while Ryan Hatch revelled in the role as super-sub when he rode Blaklion to the spoils in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle.
Hargam (8-11 favourite) seized the day in what looked an informative renewal of the JCB Triumph Hurdle Trial, but trainer Nicky Henderson appears to have an even better horse for that Festival race after Peace And Go routed his rivals at Doncaster on his British debut.
The in-form Zeroeshadesofgrey also excelled on Town Moor and is now set to run at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day.
Sunday was dominated by Jamie Spencer announcing a retirement U-turn but, on the racing, front it was No More Heroes who made a name for himself as he saw off Shaneshill to land the Navan Novice Hurdle for Gordon Elliott and Barry Geraghty.
The Willie Mullins-trained 4-9 favourite Shaneshill hurdled and travelled fluently in the hands of Ruby Walsh, tracking the pacesetting Shantou Flyer and No More Heroes. Once Shantou Flyer faded, however, the big two were left to fight it out through the final flight.
Walsh went for everything on the run-in, but 3-1 shot No More Heroes saw out the two-and-a-half-mile trip best to win by a length and three-quarters.
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