New team push on with Festival prep

The Nigel Twiston-Davies stable is keen to get on with the work of preparing The New One for the Stan James Champion Hurdle and put aside his unimpressive victory at Haydock on Saturday.

Bookmakers pushed The New One out to around 3-1 in the ante-post market for the showpiece on day one of the Cheltenham Festival on March 10 after he made hard work of beating Bertimont by two and a quarter lengths in the Champion Hurdle Trial on Merseyside.

The New One clearly ran below his best and must up his game when he attempts to improve on this third 12 months ago as Britain’s leading Champion hope will face stiff opposition from Ireland in the shape of ante-post favourite Faugheen as well as past winners Jezki and Hurricane Fly.

“He seems OK this morning. He’s come out of it fine,” said Twiston-Davies’s assistant Carl Llewellyn.

“We’d have preferred him to be more impressive. It was very difficult in that ground to go and hack up. We’d have all liked to have seen him win better and jump better.

“We’ve got seven weeks now. That’s a lovely amount of time to get him right for Cheltenham and hopefully the ground will be better by then.”

Meanwhile Cheltenham clerk of the course Simon Claisse is confident this weekend’s Trials day will beat the weather after taking the decision to deploy frost covers a week ahead of the meeting.

Monday’s two jumps fixtures at Bangor and Exeter are both subject to inspections with sub-zero temperatures expected overnight, while the prospects for Tuesday’s jumping cards are not encouraging.

Officials at Wetherby, which could not have raced on Sunday, will assess conditions at 8.30am this morning, while at Leicester clerk Jimmy Stevenson admitted: “It’s looking difficult with the forecast we’ve got.”

However, Claisse harbours no such fears, explaining: “We have put the covers down as a precaution against a cold week ahead, with temperatures dropping to as low as -7C and a little bit of rain and sleet about through the week. I think it’s going to be 3C or 4C on Saturday.

“The week looks similar to experiences we’ve had before with the frost covers when we managed to protect the ground underneath and race without a problem, and we’d be very optimistic about protecting the course and racing on Saturday.”

At Doncaster, which does not have a full-course covering, clerk Roderick Duncan said: “We’re anticipating some significant frosts up to Thursday, but temperatures are due to rise on Friday and there’s a positive forecast for Saturday.”

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