It was freezing cold at Cheltenham as darkness fell on Friday but the ground staff were getting into gear to protect the track from any drop in temperatures overnight. The course are confident racing will go ahead and that means The New One has a chance of winning the International Hurdle for the fourth time. The Splash Of Ginge is trying to complete the big pre-Christmas handicap chase double that only three horses have done in the past. Weather permitting ITV4 are covering four races from the home of jumps racing and the last Cheltenham fixture of the year.
The International Hurdle is a Grade 2 race run over 2 miles and one furlong and there are eight hurdles. It is a conditions contest for horses aged four and older. There are no age and sex allowances but winners of graded races are penalised. The New One carries six pounds more than My Tent Or Yours but has the collateral form with that horse and others to prevail. No horse has won the race four times and The New One will bring the house down if he passes the line in front. Only two other winners were aged 10 so The New One would be the joint oldest winner.
Nigel-Twiston Davies is the equal leading trainer with four winners and he trains The New One. He also won the race in 2009 with Khyber Kim in addition to his three successes with The New One (2013, 2014 and 2016). His son Sam is not riding his Dad’s pride and joy and on three winners he is three behind Richard Johnson who is the leading jockey and takes the ride. The New One has come close in the Champion Hurdle three times but his winning opportunities in that race are behind him.
The same could be said of My Tent Or Yours who has been knocking on the door of the major Grade 1 hurdles for a number of years without winning one of the big ones. The six pound weight advantage will come in handy but The New One has maintained his form and should still be too fast for My Tent Or Yours at the business end of the race. Willie Mullins is expecting improvement from Melon but the horse will have to produce a career best effort to beat The New One who can win the International Hurdle again and be aimed at another Cheltenham Festival target.
Splash Of Ginge is also trained by Twiston-Davies and is a leading contender for the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup. The horse won the BetVictor Handicap Chase at the track four weeks ago in conditions that came good for the horse on the day. He beat Starchitect by a neck carrying 10 pounds less. The weight difference is nine pounds this time so the two horses are closely matched but Splash Of Ginge is almost twice the price in the betting. Le Prezein has ground to make up and is handicapped up to his best form so will struggle to win with the allocated weight.
Splash Of Ginge is owned by Liverpudlians and the dream is winning the Grand National at Aintree. The owners would probably swap 100 of tomorrow’s races for one National but the horse is ground dependent. Splash of Ginge relishes soft ground but the underfoot conditions are often good at Aintree in the spring. The most famous chase in the world may be beyond the horse but Splash Of Ginge can achieve the rare Cheltenham double of winning the two pre-Christmas chases. The New One can also create some history at jumps HQ.