Nigel Twiston-Davies intends to run The New One in the reopened StanJames.com Champion Hurdle Trial at Haydock on Saturday – if the meeting survives the weather.
One of the favourites for the Champion Hurdle itself, the deeply talented seven-year-old claimed an easy victory in the inaugural Betfair Price Rush Hurdle at Haydock in November.
He subsequently beat Vaniteux in the International Hurdle at Cheltenham, with Twiston-Davies later nominating Haydock as a likely target.
The going at the Merseyside venue is currently heavy and some 30 millimetres of rain is forecast before the weekend, with snow also a possibility.
But Twiston-Davies said: “It is still our intention to take him to Haydock this weekend.
“If the meeting is on, he will run.”
Despite the adverse forecast, clerk of the course Kirkland Tellwright remains positive about the prospects of the meeting going ahead.
He said: “At this stage, I think we should be on.
“There’s a lot of rain to come and we are in for a wet week.
“There’s a slight risk some of it may fall as snow, and there is a possibility of frost on Saturday morning.
“The fields have stood up well and as for the Champion Hurdle Trial, when you have a headline horse like The New One I think people will forgive one small field.”
Guillaume Macaire believes the test presented by the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival is likely to play to the strengths of former inmate L’Ami Serge.
The five-year-old was winless after six starts for the renowned French trainer, but Macaire is not surprised he has come of age since joining Nicky Henderson, completing a hat-trick with a brilliant victory in the Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown last time.
L’Ami Serge is towards the head of ante-post lists for the Festival curtain-raiser and Macaire believes he has the right attributes to make his presence felt.
He told Press Association Sport: “He was very backward when he was with me earlier in the year, but I think he is very nice horse and I think he has a nice card to play.
“A lot of time has passed since his last run for me (last March) and I think maybe now he is a five-year-old, he will be stronger and has reached a good level of fitness.
“I don’t think distance is a problem for him. He is a horse with good management of himself.
“Two and a half miles will probably be his best distance, but French racing and English racing is different and two miles and a furlong at Cheltenham could be good for him as you need speed and stamina.”
L’Ami Serge is one of a number of youngsters from the famous Macaire production supply-line to have excelled in Britain and Ireland this season, with the Frenchman particularly well placed to assess this year’s juvenile crop.
After all, Bristol De Mai, Top Notch and Kalkir were all under Macaire’s tutelage before being sold on for hefty sums.
The trainer revealed recent Chepstow scorer Bristol De Mai was never a flashy workhorse in France and wonders whether he possesses the required pace for the frenetic Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham in March.
“Bristol De Mai is a horse who doesn’t look such a nice horse (on the gallops), but he is very effective,” said Macaire.
“In my opinion, he could be a better horse next year as I think he is the type of horse who could become a top novice chaser.
“I watched him at Chepstow, which is a testing course, and I think that was the right place for him,
“Cheltenham could be different, as you need the speed to get a nice position in a race like the Triumph Hurdle.
“If you are at the tail of the field, I think it can be difficult, but he is a big, strong horse who will stay well.
“Top Notch is a horse with a different profile and more difficult for me to judge as it has been a long time since I last saw him.
“For me he ran twice and won twice and he is now unbeaten in three starts. Only good horses are able to do that.
“It is hard for me to predict with him, but I think he’s a nice horse.
“Apparently the ground was not perfect for Kalkir on his last run, but he is also a nice horse.”
Other ex-Macaire inmates include Gold Cup favourite Silviniaco Conti and last season’s stunning Supreme winner Vautour, a major contender for the Arkle.
He said: “It is too long ago that he was with me for me to properly judge Silviniaco Conti, but he is clearly a marvellous horse. He seems to have had more look at Kempton than Cheltenham, having won the King George twice. Maybe a flatter track is better for him, but I don’t know.
“Vautour is a special case for me as I trained the dam and the stallion. He was very backward at the age of three and he did not see the racecourse until very late.
“He was a champion at Cheltenham last year and is now chasing. He is a big horse with a big frame and I think time will work for him. He should be an even better horse over fences.”
It is unlikely the Macaire name will be seen on a British racecourse again any time soon, however.
“Today I sell too many horses and am not in the right position to bring horses to run in England, except in special circumstances,” said the trainer, who was also responsible for the early development of Long Run.
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