Considering the top of the Stan James Champion Hurdle for Cheltenham free bet market consists of 3 second season novices and a horse looking to graduate to the top level, connections of one or two top class veterans will surely be feeling quietly confident ahead of the 3.30pm day one Cheltenham Festival showpiece.
Nigel Twiston-Davies has his stable firing on all cylinders at the moment and goes into the Festival with his strongest squad of horses for years and is always bullish about his horses, especially those as good as THE NEW ONE, who despite falling short the last couple of years, could be primed to produce a career best at a big price.
The New One loves it here at Cheltenham, where his career record reads 1-6-1-2-1-1-3-1-5-4-1, with six wins from nine starts at Prestbury Park.
In finishing third behind Annie Power in the Champion Hurdle last year, he produced an RPR of 161, which was a decent effort but certainly a few pounds below his absolute best.
This season so far the 9-year-old son of King’s Theatre has won two from three, including an impressive victory when giving weight to My Tent Or Yours in the International Hurdle.
He was put in his place at Kempton Park behind Yanworth next time out, but Cheltenham is much more his type of racecourse. He put the finishing touches on his prep with a battling success at Haydock, where again he is never quite at his best, but the vibes coming from the yard are that this could be “his year”.
Others that could prove a bit of value include Brain Power – who is the real dark horses in the race after his big run at Ascot.
Footpad was doing all his best work at the finish last time out and also has fair each way claims at 20/1, while the top three in the market are much of a muchness and hard to sort out.
The New One, at 14/1, has the right blend of experience and talent to make him a fair each way bet at double figure odds.