Doom Bar Aintree Hurdle
|Grade 1, Aintree
2m 4f, Class 1
|Thursday 3rd April 2014|
1 The New One 4/9F
2 Rock On Ruby 10/1
3 Diakali 13/2
7 ran Distances: hd, nse, 10l
TIME 4m 54.80s (slow by 11.80s)
The New One had to dig deep to repel a challenge from both Rock On Ruby and Diakali to land the Grade One Doom Bar Aintree Hurdle by a head and a nose this afternoon.
The 4/9 favourite looked like he was going to run away with the two and a half mile event as the field jumped the last but Rock On Ruby and Diakali fought back well to produce a blanket finish as the trio hit the line.
Jockey Sam Twiston-Davies felt his mount just lacked an edge this afternoon and feels he is a much better horse when he is fresh. The New One's last run had come just over three weeks ago at the Cheltenham Festival when the six-year-old was unlucky in running in the Champion Hurdle behind eventual winner Jezki.
"He's very good but he just lacked a bit of sparkle this afternoon as he's not really gone away from them after the last," said the jockey.
"He's an amazing horse when he's fresh and the three weeks between Cheltenham and this race probably wasn't enough.
"It rode like a funny kind of race and Rock On Ruby has had it all his own way up front. I had to use a burst of speed just to catch them up before the last which hasn't helped.
"He's probably a two-miler in truth. I know he's won over two and half at Cheltenham but, at this level, this trip probably just stretches him a bit.
"It's been a frustrating season but it's nice to get a Grade One on board. The Christmas Hurdle defeat (at Kempton when narrowly beaten by My Tent Or Yours) was tough and the Champion Hurdle was just heart-breaking.
"He'll have a nice summer holiday now but he'll be sweating quite a bit as we'll be wrapping him up in so much cotton wool! I imagine the plan will be to come back for another crack at the Champion Hurdle next year."
Doom Bar Aintree Hurdle (Grade 1)
£200,000 added, 4yo plus, 2m 4f, Class 1
Going: Good, Good to Soft in places
||The New One
N A Twiston-Davies
|4 - 9
||Rock On Ruby
|10 - 1
W P Mullins
|A P McCoy
|13 - 2
P F Nicholls
|14 - 1
|66 - 1
P F Nicholls
|16 - 1
N J Henderson
|B J Geraghty
|20 - 1
RUBY ROCKS IN SECOND
Rock On Ruby was third in this race two years ago and, after an abortive chasing campaign, was returned to hurdles to be narrowly beaten in second place.
Noel Fehily's mount was always in the firing line and scrapped back close to post to just be denied by a head.
Trainer Harry Fry said of the 2012 Champion Hurdle winner: "He tries all day and is a very, very good hurdler. I am thrilled to bits - we are so close yet so far.
"It was a fantastic run and he is a hurdler through and through. On good ground, he is a brilliant horse.
"Noel said to stick to two miles over hurdles next year. He will be a year older but on that run why not try for the Champion Hurdle?"
Diakali was just a nose away in third for trainer Willie Mullins and Tony McCoy.
Mullins said of the 13/2 second favourite: "It was a good run and when he learns to settle he will be better again.
"We will look at Punchestown for him now."
THE NEW ONE GETS THERE - ON THE LINE
A memorable three-cornered battle for the Doom Bar Aintree Hurdle ended in narrow victory for The New One, trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies.
His six-year-old beat Rock On Ruby and Diakali by a head and a nose, which meant The New One returned to the No.1 spot following a third place in last month's Stan James Champion Hurdle.
Debate has subsequently centred on whether The New One was beaten by that incident, or through lack of ability, a matter which may be resolved when he bids for the 2015 running.
Twiston-Davies, whose son, Sam, rode the winner, said: "I was pretty confident it [the photo finish] would go our way, but he is definitely best at two miles and not two and a half miles [which was today's race distance]. I can hardly speak now I was shouting so much.
"It's obvious he's the best horse we've ever had and the one we've been looking for - everyone looks for horses like that and we've been lucky. We felt this was a race we should win, and we were gutted at Cheltenham because we hoped to win and didn't.
"Everything is laid out for next year's Champion Hurdle. You have a horse like that and you want it to be the best ever - and win four Champion Hurdles. We're too bloody greedy really. Maybe he should have won, maybe he shouldn't. That's what life's about and in racing that means one horse galloping around a field faster than the others. We had other problems, but he wasn't able to prove himself. He gained eight lengths from the last and how many did he lose [when hampered]?"