Bookmakers believe My Tent Or Yours and The New One could even be sent off joint-favourites with the leading lights of the new generation proving hard to separate in Kempton’s williamhill.com Christmas Hurdle on Thursday.
The New One, who is 7lb ahead on ratings, already fronts the ante-post betting for the StanJames Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham, having built upon such a promising novice campaign by trouncing former Champion winner Rock On Ruby at Kempton and then quickening six lengths clear of Zarkandar in the International at Cheltenham on December 14.
Trainer Nicky Henderson and owner JP McManus are bidding to land the Grade One for the fourth time in a row with My Tent Or Yours, following exploits of the recently-retired Binocular and last season’s effort from the ill-fated Darlan.
Betfair Hurdle winner My Tent Or Yours made a smooth reappearance in the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle, while the pair did meet in the Aintree bumper of 2012, with The New One winning by a length and a quarter but in receipt of a 6lb weight allowance.
The race sponsors make The New One 10-11 against his rival at 5-4 and William Hill spokesman Jon Ivan-Duke said: “The race looks set to be a ding-dong festive battle between two of this season’s leading hurdlers and it would be no surprise to see them go off as joint-favourites.”
StanJames’ Rory Jiwani said: “We’re happy to lay The New One in the Christmas Hurdle with our 11-10 the biggest price about. My Tent Or Yours is also 11-10 and it’s 14-1 bar those with six going to post.
“We can’t separate them in the betting at Kempton and we can’t separate them in our ’to win the Christmas Hurdle and Champion Hurdle’ market with both horses 6-1 to do the double.”
Sam Twiston-Davies, rider of The New One for his father Nigel, is aware he will be in a tactical battle with Tony McCoy and My Tent Or Yours.
The in-form jockey held on to his mount until before the final flight in the International before he raced clear on the run-in.
“Obviously we were very happy with him at Cheltenham,” he told BBC Radio Wales.
“He has a very high cruising speed and the one thing about him is he has a really sharp turn of foot at the end, when you go for him it’s instant.
“How we ride him will be different to Cheltenham as My Tent Or Yours is very similar to us in the way he can travel, with a high cruising speed and a turn of foot as well.”
Grumeti, who was third in the 2012 Triumph and later won at Aintree, missed the whole of last season, is also in the line-up.
Alan King’s gelding made a satisfactory comeback by finishing third to My Tent Or Yours at Newcastle, while sixth-placed Duke Of Navan is sent south from Cumbria by trainer Nicky Richards.
King knows Grumeti must make plenty of improvement but he is still, like the big two, considered a Champion Hurdle prospect.
“Grumeti is a horse who has had very little racing in the last year, so needs the practice,” the trainer told www.alankingracing.co.uk.
“I was happy with him at Newcastle, where he just got a bit tired after the last and was run out of it for second, but he should be a lot sharper for the race and I’d like to think he will keep on progressing.
“He has been in very good form at home and, though we could well think about stepping him up in trip one day, I still have the Champion Hurdle very much in mind.”
The field is completed by the Paul Nicholls-trained Sametegal, who was a very respectable second to Dell’ Arca when conceding a lot of weight in the Greatwood Hurdle, and the rank outsider Chapel House.
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