The New One could sign off a glittering career in the Unibet International Hurdle at Cheltenham on Saturday.
Connections of the popular and talented 10-year-old are preparing themselves to announce his retirement unless he puts in a performance similar to one that has seen him lift this prize three times.
His form has dipped in recent races - after being well beaten at Cheltenham and Aintree in the spring, he faded tamely out of contention in the Welsh Champion Hurdle on his reappearance at Ffos Las in October.
The New One will be fitted with headgear by his trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies in an attempt to rejuvenate him.
Twiston-Davies’ son, Sam, who has ridden The New One to 18 of his 20 career wins, reported the stable favourite to be in good form.
“This is something we’ve had in mind a a long time. We’re going to bring him back for the International. It’s a race he’s always run well in and they’re going to put some headgear on him as one last try,” he told At The Races.
“He’s in good shape at home. We want to bring him to the track and see if he’s still got it or not. If he hasn’t, I’d imagine he’d go off on his retirement.
“He’s been a wonderful horse for all of us. We absolutely love him to bits. If for any reason he’s not enjoying it, he’ll have a five-star home for life.”
The jockey recalled some of his finest moments on The New One.
“I have his first International saved on my Sky box along with his Aintree Hurdles,” he said.
“Those are with AP (McCoy on the third, Diakali) and Noel Fehily (on runner-up Rock On Ruby) chasing him home. Two jockeys like that in a tight finish, they are the ones you really savour.”
The International Hurdle has been re-opened until Tuesday morning due to insufficient entries.
Meanwhile Saint Calvados is set to be given more experience going right-handed after his first attempt that way round saw him finish third to Altior in the Betfair Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown on Saturday. While trainer Harry Whittington was pleased with the performance of his stable star, he feels he needs to step up in trip and down in grade after taking on the best over two miles.
“He’s absolutely fine, he’s all good,” said the Wantage handler. “He ran with credit at the end of the day and obviously it was the first time he’d been right-handed.
“He hung a bit left down the back straight and probably got caught out by his inexperience, but he stayed on well up the hill to beat Sceau Royal for third place.
“It was a solid effort. He’s still got a very bright future and we’ll probably step him up in trip now.”
He added: “We’ll let the dust settle and have a look. There’s a Listed race over two and a half at Kempton in January.
“It will probably be a good thing to take him right-handed down in grade, and then we will just take it from there.”