My Tent clears first hurdle in battle for glory
MY TENT OR YOURS won this battle but no one, least of all his trainer Nicky Henderson, was bold enough to suggest that he would win the war after he beat The New One by half a length in a terrific Christmas Hurdle at Kempton.
Sometimes the appetiser is better than the main meal and this race came close to upstaging the King George as England's finest hurdlers went hammer and tongs up the straight and left their rivals toiling nearly 30 lengths behind.
Faced with something of a tactical conundrum, Sam Twiston-Davies had sent The New One on three out to exploit any possible stamina chinks in the armour of My Tent Or Yours.
In an ideal world, however, someone else would have taken him to between the last two hurdles but none of their rivals could live with them. He was stalked all the while by AP McCoy on My Tent Or Yours, which had pulled hard early on, and, in the end, it all came down to who jumped the last flight better.
The New One, with no stride, missed it, which definitely cost him impetus, cost his jockey an iron and probably cost them the race.
Most bookmakers made the pair joint 3/1 favourites for the Champion Hurdle title in March -- a position The New One held outright until yesterday.
"AP said he had a long way to go after Newcastle," Henderson explained afterwards. "But he has taken a big step today.
"This is testing ground. They went stop-start to try and make him pull and he did. They are the best in England but it's the ones hiding away in Ireland -- Hurricane Fly, Jezki and particularly Our Conor, which I'm worried about." (© Daily Telegraph, London)