The Major continues on his ten to follow write ups and having covered in previous pages Bellshill and Gods Own; as well as No More Heroes and Ma Filleule, the time has come to look at a few more obvious candidates for spring success in the Major races.
Two more instalments to follow.
The New One
Nigel Twiston-Davies and his son, Sam, have made absolutely clear what they think of The New One and I rate it personally as an excellent Champion Hurdle prospect.
In a division complicated by the arrival of Faugheen and the potential durability of stablemate, Hurricane Fly; there is a fairness in the price of
To discuss the rational for The New One, we must review the prospects of his significant market rivals. So here goes. Faugheen did everything expected on seasonal reappearance and his performances last year were indeed eye-catching. However, this is a step up to the top table and he is yet to encounter the true beasts of the division. I have no doubt he can compete but a more normal profile is a horse that has that experience already, even if beaten.
Jezki, I know this might rankle a few, would be my idea of a lay for the festival. No doubt he is a reliable yardstick at G1 level but his record looks patchy and the race panned out perfectly for him last year. His pace limitations were exposed by The Fly on seasonal return and in the Champion Hurdle, you want a horse that travels and accelerates off a good clip and stays on. Tall order but that is what the Champion normally needs.
The Fly, 20 G1s after his seasonal winning debut has been one of the most costly horses I have watched race. I used to think he was not good enough, winning poorer Irish hurdles; in this I was fatally wrong. Then I interpreted a few moments of signs that his greatness was waning; something I over-played, again to my cost. Now I am banking on the chap not being able to compete at Cheltenham when it counts with his aging legs – The time has come to hand over the mantle. If you are a fan and you resent my view, I can understand that. Take solace that as the Fly accelerates up that hill in March, as your heart explodes with sheer delight, I shall be stood there, hand stroking chin, taking another intake of breath and doing my damnedest to be gracious, a la Robert Redford in The Sting (favourite film) when losing a fortune on roulette in a back street illegal and dodgy gambling den. D’ya folla?
Previous champion hurdle form is a great marker for future Champion Hurdle prospects. I believe this is to do with experience of the big race. The record books are full of unlucky horses in their first Champion Hurdle coming back to seek a revenge. Think Binocular, Punjabi (different profile I accept), Jezki (OK I’ve already admonished his chances) and Hurricane Fly too.
My Tent or Yours would definitely have been a consideration but tendon injury has done for him.
This is one of the things I really like about The New One. He was desperately unlucky last year when the fatal tragic fall of Our Conor hampered his own chances. He has started the season with an entirely reasonable dismissal of inferiors and he will be campaigned to win the big one.
Jezki and The Fly remain big lays for me and that only leaves Faugheen who could be one of the greats but I go back to my theory. I would not have a horse that has not previously placed or won in a Champion Hurdle. Half of all Champion Hurdles go to a horse that placed or won the race in the prior year. This year, The New One joins my antepost bankers 7/2.
More of That
The staying hurdle division last year needed to go through a transitional period after the dominating reign of Big Bucks. More of That of the O’Neill yard picked up the mantle, winning at 15/2, staying on best up the hill from a brave Annie Power who perhaps was being asked a little much to stay at such a high level se early in her career.
More of That is only 6 himself so there is plenty of time to see the best from this son of Beneficial. I cannot see why this horse would not improve again. You cannot forget, he has only raced 5 times and remains unbeaten, readily rising to a mark of 169.
More importantly, the market does not throw out any obvious closers from the pack to take his crown. I doubt that Annie Power will be campaigned with the World Hurdle in mind again. I think she is almost a banker for the Mares race. I cannot back her at present odds but chasing can wait and surely the Mullins team want to take the Quevega race?
After that, Beat That, Briar Hill, At Fishers Cross, Zarkander – It is a mediocre lot queuing to take a pop at More of That.
There is one issue that has to be commented on. Could he go chasing himself? Somehow I doubt it. Jon campaigns the horse pretty sparingly suggesting he goes well fresh. When you have the keys to a horse that looks a certainty for one of the Cheltenham Championship races, why mess with the formula. I think Jonjo has staying chasers which he can go to war with and there is no need to switch codes for More of That.
Keep things simple, 5/2 – Let’s have some more of that.