The New One and My Tent Or Yours square off again in International Hurdle
The New One and My Tent Or Yours feature among a superb field of seven for the £130,000 G2 Unibet International Hurdle (3.05pm), one of the highlights on day two of The International at Cheltenham on Saturday.
Defending champion The New One, trained locally by Nigel Twiston-Davies and ridden by his son Sam, is bidding for an unprecedented fourth victory in the two-mile, one-furlong contest, with wins in 2013 and 2014 to add to his all-the-way success 12 months ago.
The popular nine-year-old, fourth on his latest outing when carrying top-weight in the £100,000 G3 Unibet Greatwood Handicap Hurdle at The November Meeting, is 2/1 second favourite with the race sponsor to gain a remarkable seventh Cheltenham victory, on his 14th outing at the Home of Jump Racing, tomorrow.
My Tent Or Yours (Nicky Henderson/Barry Geraghty), 5/1 with Unibet, was second behind The New One in the 2016 Unibet International Hurdle and has filled the runner-up spot in three renewals of the G1 Unibet Champion Hurdle at The Festival - 2014, 2016 and 2017.
Unibet's 7/4 favourite Melon (Willie Mullins IRE/David Mullins) was also runner-up at The Festival in March, when going down by two and a quarter lengths to Labaik in the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle.
The five-year-old, trying to be the fourth Irish-trained winner of the Unibet International Hurdle, made an impressive return to action with an easy victory in a G2 hurdle at Down Royal on November 3.
Other leading contenders include the 2015 winner Old Guard (12/1, Paul Nicholls/Harry Cobden), successful in a valuable handicap hurdle at Newbury on December 2, and Ch'tibello (15/2, Dan Skelton/Harry Skelton), who makes his first appearance since finishing second in the G2 Betway Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton in February.
This year's G3 Pertemps Network Swinton Handicap Hurdle victor John Constable (16/1, Evan Williams/Davy Russell) and Dell' Arca (50/1, David Pipe/Tom Scudamore) complete the line-up.
Tomorrow's seven-race card on the second day of The International includes the £120,000 Caspian Caviar Gold Cup Handicap Chase (1.55pm), run over nearly two miles and a five furlongs, for which 11 runners were declared yesterday including last month's G3 BetVictor Gold Cup winner Splash Of Ginge (Nigel Twiston-Davies/Tom Bellamy, 10st 10lb).
Brillare Momento (Martin Keighley/Aidan Coleman, 11st 10lb) gamely won the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle at The Showcase in October and the Martin Keighley-trained six-year-old attempts to follow up in the £30,000 OLBG Mares' Handicap Hurdle (3.40pm) over an extended two and a half miles.
The daughter of Milan displayed her battling qualities once again when rallying to take the Listed Thoroughbred Breeders' Association Mares' Novices' Hurdle over the same course and distance at The April Meeting earlier this year. Her 13 rivals include Lamanver Odyssey (Harry Fry/Noel Fehily, 10st 13lb), successful in a mares' handicap hurdle at Wincanton on November 11, and Momella (Dan Skelton/Harry Skelton, 11st 7lb), runner-up in the G2 Ballymore Novices' Hurdle at The November Meeting.
Trainer Martin Keighley, who is based close to Cheltenham at Luckley, said today: "Brillare Momento is doing really well.
"She has come on for her run at The Showcase and we have had tomorrow's race in mind for her since then.
"She runs well fresh and so the seven-week gap is not a worry. She likes Cheltenham and should have a very good chance.
"We are up against the horse that beat us at Newton Abbot in May (Momella), but that was probably one run too many for Brillare Momento and she had probably gone a bit over the top.
"Newton Abbot did not really suit her and we had to give Momella 10 pounds, but tomorrow it is only three pounds. It should be close between them again.
"We are on fresh ground at this meeting (all the racing is on the New Course) and the conditions should be fine for her."
Current JCB Triumph Hurdle favourite Apple's Shakira (Nicky Henderson) faces three rivals in the opening £20,000 JCB Triumph Hurdle Trial (2m 1f, 12.10pm) including Nube Negra (Dan Skelton/Harry Skelton), who made an impressive British debut at Market Rasen on November 9.
Kalondra (Neil Muholland/Noel Fehily), second in the G2 "Rising Stars" at Wincanton on Novmber 11, and recent Newbury handicap chase runner-up Jameson (Nigel Twiston-Davies) head a field of four in the £25,000 Ryman Novices Chase (2m 5f, 12.45pm).
The G2 Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle (3m, 2.30pm) boasts a superb roll of honour, with Coneygree (2012) and Unowhatimeanharry (2015) featuring among the recent winners.
Five runners for this year's race feature Equus Secretus (Ben Pauling/David Bass), who is unbeaten in two starts over hurdles, and recent Ascot scorer Count Meribel (Nigel Twiston-Davies/Mark Grant).
The racing action is completed by the £30,000 Junior Jumpers Handicap Chase (1.20pm) an extended two miles over, which has eight runners headed by the 2014 Queen Mother Champion Chase winner Sire De Grugy (Gary Moore/Jamie Moore, 11st 12lb).