Richard Johnson has been booked for The New One in Sunday's Unibet Greatwood Hurdle, renewing a partnership that got off to the best possible start over course and distance last December when the nine-year-old gave three-time Champion Hurdle runner-up My Tent Or Yours 8lb and a three-and-a-half length beating in the International Hurdle.
At that time Johnson was only the third rider to have partnered The New One in public, as he'd been ridden in all but one of his previous races by Sam Twiston-Davies – who is sidelined with an elbow injury.
The pair clearly hit it off in the International as The New One made all and jumped accurately before coming clear up the hill.
Amateur Zac Baker took a valuable 5lb off when The New One beat Clyne in last month's Welsh Champion Hurdle at Ffos Las but, despite a 3lb stiffer mark in Sunday's race at Cheltenham, connections appear to have opted for the champion jockey's superior strength and experience over Baker's allowance.
Trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies said on Wednesday: "The owners have decided they would like Richard, and he got on great with The New One last year. The horse is in very good shape and we'll have another go."
The New One will likely keep several runners out of the handicap, but his inclusion would be good news for Dan Skelton. His Mohaayed will carry just 10st but had the class to finish sixth behind Gleneagles in the Irish 2,000 Guineas and retains untapped potential over hurdles following two wins from six starts.
Skelton said: "If The New One runs it brings in a lot of horses on unusual weights. Mohaayed will be off 10st and that’s unusual for a horse of that calibre as usually they’re off a lot more.
"It changes the complexion of the race if The New One does run, but whatever weight Mohaayed carries he is primed. I’m not going to come out of the race and say he’s going to improve. It’s a £100,000 handicap and they shouldn’t be improving."
Old Guard helped put Harry Cobden on the map when winning the race in 2015 when Paul Nicholls made good use of the youngster's 7lb claim, and this time the six-year-old provides a big opportunity for Bryony Frost, who claims 5lb.
Nicholls confirmed: "The intention is to run Old Guard, with Bryony riding, and Amour De Nuit with Harry on board."