The New One is on offer at 25/1 (Unibet, Stan James, Betvictor) for the Stayers Hurdle at Cheltenham in March. I strongly recommend having a bet on him and the only thing that has limited my stakes is the unpredictability of Nigel Twiston-Davies, the horse’s trainer.
Nigel Twiston-Davies has been obsessed – and I use that word after much consideration – with the idea that The New One was cheated out of the 2014 Champion Hurdle when he was impeded by the fall of Our Conor. He has returned three times to the race with The New One to try to prove himself correct and has seen the same result every time (what is it they say about the definition of madness?), the horse being outpaced at that critical stage coming down to the second last, which was exactly what happened in Our Conor’s year. And, to put that to bed, The New One got tangled up with the fatally injured Irish horse at the third jump and went from about a length behind Jezki (the winner) to about six lengths off him. A substantial deficit on the face of it.
But the race had not developed at that point and Sam Twiston-Davies on The New One did not panic and made up the lost ground smoothly and efficiently to be sitting on Jezki’s tail at the 5th. The New One was not fluent there and that was a much more critical juncture as they prepared to run down hill, the phase in which the speed horses can gather momentum to go for it after jumping two out.
The New One couldn’t go with the speedsters and found himself four lengths adrift coming away from the 2nd last which, again, he did not jump well. He made no inroads on the deficit under strong riding until they met the hill at which point he was finishing fastest of all. This has been pretty much the shape of his three Champion Hurdle runs since then as Nige has sought revenge on the Fates. The reason he gets outpaced and the reason he usually runs on late up the hill is because he is a stayer. He’s a stayer doomed by his obsessed trainer to try to win the two-mile championship.
Last season, Sam Twiston-Davies and Richard Johnson advised Nige to run The New One in the World Hurdle (now The Stayers), but Nige would not listen, although he reportedly agreed that he would try the Stayers this year. After The New One just failed to concede 6lbs to My Tent Or Yours on Saturday, Nigel Twiston-Davies was moaning again about the penalty structure although he did concede that The New One would now ‘probably’ go for The Stayers. I went online expecting to see quotes of around 10/1, which is what he should be for the race, (and he is indeed as low as 12/1 with one bookie), only to find 25/1 available.
That’s a fantasy price for a high class horse who’s been one of the most consistent in training and has shown no signs of lost ability despite being campaigned for so long at well below his optimum trip. This horse is a stayer. He was a stayer as a novice and very few horses lose stamina as they age – in fact I could not name one; speed is usually the edge that is lost.
The New One first caught my eye on his second outing of the 2012/13 season when beating Village Vic on good to soft at Cheltenham over 2m5f. I began following and betting him. His next race was in very soft ground at Warwick over 2m5f where he gave weight to most of his rivals. He took it up 4 out and drew farther and farther clear, winning under hands and heels by 16L, looking an out and out stayer.
I travelled to Cheltenham to see him run his next race in heavy ground in January 2013 over an extended 2m4f against what, even then, looked promising rivals. He took it up well before the last and faltered on the run-in, rallying as At Fisher’s Cross reached him but too late; he was beaten a neck. Sam Twiston-Davies said after the race: “It’s very tough, but I used his speed and then ended up walking. I blame myself. I went too soon. I wanted to get by Coneygree before the last, but if I’d waited he’d have won.”
Yep, that Coneygree, who finished 12 lengths back in 3rd. In 4th was Whisper, 20 lengths behind The New One.
He recovered in good time for the Festival and sauntered home in the Neptune over 2m5f, a victory that proved a mixed blessing. The race was steadily run and The New One sprinted away up the hill, planting in his trainer the seed of the Champion Hurdle dream.
Since that Neptune win, The New One has never again raced over that far. He’s had four outings over 2m4f, all at Aintree, which is primarily a speed track. Three of those runs were on good ground, further emphasising the speed aspect, yet he’s acquitted himself well, beating Rock On Ruby by a head in a real tussle, just failing against Zarkandar and finishing 3rd this year to Buveur D’Air. On his only soft ground run there, he fell at the 5th when Annie Power won.
So, now, let us hope he finally gets a chance at what he deserves and what he was bred for – a staying championship race at the Cheltenham Festival.
On his pedigree – By King’s Theatre out of Thuringe: the only other foal of his dam is the 5-y-o Shimmer’s Rock. King’s Theatre’s stock have built the following distance stats:
16f to 17.5f : 13.8% Strike rate
24f to 26.25f : 14.4%
29f to 32f : 14%
Take the 25/1 but be cautious with stakes. If one or two of the big guns miss the Champion Hurdle, the trainer’s compulsion might well overcome him again. If The New One gets safely to the Stayers, his age stats and and those Aintree 20f runs will put quite a few off and he will still be overpriced. But he’ll be nowhere near 25/1.