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The New One gone but Ballyandy battles to land Champion Hurdle trial

It was written in the stars that Ballyandy would win a race named after his legendary stablemate The New One, but even when it happened people didn't believe it.

The generally held view of those on course and watching from afar at Haydock on Saturday was that Pentland Hills had held off Ballyandy's late charge, and surprise greeted the judge's decision.

There are other adjectives to describe the reaction of the Pentland Hills camp after what seemed an encouraging trial for the Champion Hurdle turned sour, not to mention the punters who backed the runner-up at the minimum 1.01 for £30,000 in Betfair's in-running market. 

For all the agony, there was a tide of euphoria as Ballyandy showed the hallmarks that made The New One such a hero for Nigel and Sam Twiston-Davies.

The father-and-son team, who celebrated a similarly dramatic last-gasp win with Stolen Silver earlier on the card, have made the race their own by combining for four wins with The New One, who paraded before the contest named in his honour.

"It's been a great day, The New One was superb and Ballyandy probably won't be as good but he's a good one to follow him," said the trainer.

"I can say this because he's my son but when you've got the best jockey in the country then you're going to get these things. 

"We'll have a crack at the Champion Hurdle – what else can we do? Until they have this fifth day at Cheltenham and a two-and-a-half mile hurdle, the two-mile hurdle is his race."

Those searching for some much needed clarity in the ante-post Champion Hurdle market were again left with more questions than answers. 

Ballyandy was cut to 20-1 (from 33-1) for the two-mile hurdle championship by Betfair, while Pentland Hills was eased to 8-1 (from 7) by BoyleSports.

Regarding Pentland Hills, Owners Group spokesman Ryan Bliss said: "Nico [de Boinville] was disappointed but who wouldn't be when they've just got nabbed on the line. I think he slightly pulled up in front and conditions couldn't have been more against him – plus he's given an older horse 3lb. 

"Come March when it quickens up and they go a right gallop, you'd like to think he'll settle and that would bring out the best in him."

Fighting Fifth winner Cornerstone Lad ran a good race giving weight away all round, finishing less than a length behind in third. 

"There isn't a lot else to go for other than the Champion Hurdle and I'd imagine he'll go straight there," said trainer Micky Hammond. 

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