The New One will face six rivals in the www.StanJames.com Champion Hurdle Trial at Haydock today – if the meeting survives a morning inspection.
Nigel Twiston-Davies’ stable star is the main British challenger for the Champion Hurdle itself in March and will be long odds-on to supplement his claims, despite giving weight to all of his rivals.
The Naunton handler is praying the meeting defeats the elements, but there could be a chance the Grade Two is rescheduled if it does fall by the wayside.
“I can’t see the meeting being off, I’ve talked to Haydock and they are very confident,” said Twiston-Davies.
“On the off chance that it is, though, I’ve spoken to the BHA and they have said there’s a chance the race could be saved and run somewhere else.
“If that happens, then great.”
Sam Twiston-Davies misses the ride on Dodging Bullets in the Clarence House Chase at Ascot so as to partner his favourite horse.
The jockey told Yorkshire Radio: “We’re very happy with the condition he’s in.
“He schooled nicely on Monday and he seems in good order.
“He’s a very short price so hopefully he’ll go very well.
“We’re not too worried about the ground. We’ve targeted this and hopefully it’s the last step on the way to Cheltenham.
“It would be lovely if he could win, not have too hard a race and then get him nice and fresh for Cheltenham.
“It’s almost nice looking at the Champion Hurdle and going in as the underdog.
“It will be Faugheen’s toughest test, and probably ours, and if we get beaten I’ll be the first one to shake their hands.
“It’s why you get into the game, to ride horses like him.”
Dan Skelton is well aware of the task facing Bertimont, but feels the easier nature of Haydock will suit him better than at Cheltenham last month, when he was convincingly put in his place by The New One.
“The flatter track ought to be more in his favour, I’d have thought,” said the Warwickshire handler.
“Places like Haydock and Wincanton should be his cup of tea.
“He’s won on heavy in Ireland before he joined us, so that isn’t really a worry.”
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