Nigel Twiston-Davies threw down the gauntlet to Champion Hurdle favourite Faugheen at Cheltenham on Saturday after The New One, ridden by his son Sam, put in a faultless display in the International Hurdle.
“You have to be massively impressed with Faugheen,” conceded the trainer before spelling out how he imagines the apple of his eye will beat the big rival in March. “Most of Faugheen’s form has been over longer distances,” he said.
“Will he have the turn of foot that our horse has? I would like to think we could sit behind him, gently overtake him going to the last and then bye-bye.”
Fighting talk indeed and The New One’s dismissal of young pretender Vaniteux has prompted bookies to shorten him to a best-priced 3/1 for the big race; he remains the only serious home hope of repelling a powerful Irish challenge.
Twiston-Davies also has a Festival dream for Blaklion, impressive in the staying novice’ hurdle, but the rest of the afternoon was more like a nightmare with two falls (Little Jon and Splash Of Ginge) and yet another submission from the infuriating Mad Moose, who, given one last chance, yet again refused to race.
The Caspian Caviars Gold Cup is meant to be one of the most competitive handicap chases of the season, but it was turned into a procession by Venetia Williams’ much-improved Niceonefrankie.
As others, including joint favourite Caid Du Berlais, struggled to jump cleanly out of the sticky ground and fell by the wayside, Niceonefrankie was spring-heeled out in front and had the race in the bag long before he crossed the line in glorious isolation.
“His jumping was so good, I didn’t have to do anything really, just point him in the right direction,” said Aidan Coleman. “He’s bull ignorant and wouldn’t make the best pet, but he has the heart of a lion and is everything you’d want in a racehorse.”Reuse content