New One's Champion show
This season's running father and son theme continued at Cheltenham as Nigel and Sam Twiston-Davies combined in both the headline events.
Just over half an hour after a courageous victory from Double Ross in the Stewart Family Thank You Gold Cup, The New One furthered his Festival claims in the StanJames.com International Hurdle.
After big-race successes over the last month for the respective trainers and jockeys of the Tizzard and Moore clans, the Gloucestershire-based Twiston-Davies family were afforded a rousing home welcome.
The New One is now 3/1 favourite with Coral and Ladbrokes for the Champion Hurdle after what was a match on paper with Zarkandar, last year's winner which came out half a length ahead when the pair met at Aintree in April.
Now out of novice company, the 2/5 market leader delivered a fairly devastating finishing kick when Zarkandar pressed him, conjuring six lengths from almost nothing on the run for the last.
While the runner-up's connections were left feeling slightly aggrieved about a coming-together with Brendan Powell and Jumps Road approaching the final flight, jockey Daryl Jacob admitted there were no grounds for believing he would have prevailed over Sam Twiston-Davies' mount otherwise.
A proud Nigel said: "It's different class, having the boy on board makes it extra special. Winning races with Carl (Llewellyn) who is my best mate was great, but that is an extra bit again. What I loved was when the other horse got to him he quickened away -- that was Champion Hurdle-type acceleration."
Twiston-Davies will now produce The New One again in the williamhill.com Christmas Hurdle at Kempton.
"He'll have the entry and as long as he is 100pc he will go, as there's so few races for him otherwise. You'd have to wait until February," he said.
His son said: "I missed the last, but he has so much boot underneath him that I gave him a kick in the belly and off he went. I am a bit annoyed with myself, as I said one thing I wouldn't do was hit the front before the last, but the horse is very good."
Jacob said of the Paul Nicholls-trained Zarkandar: "It (the interference) has obviously put him off his stride a bit, but in regard to the winner, there was no way I'd have got to him anyway."
The stewards ruled Powell at fault, and suspended him for three days for careless riding (December 29-31).
As The New One is regarded by Twiston-Davies as about the best he has trained along with Imperial Commander, the same would not apply to Double Ross, which plays more of a supporting role for Grange Hill Farm. This was, though, their first victory after countless placed efforts in the valuable Grade Three handicap over two miles and five furlongs.
A springer in the market at 7/1, Double Ross was on his second stint over fences and had only five chasing starts before being pitched into a competitive heat.
Sew On Target and Easter Meteor set a frenetic pace throughout, with Double Ross perched on their coat tails, messing up the fourth last but moving past the trail blazers with two fences left.
Paddy Power winner Johns Spirit and Tony McCoy's mount, Colour Squadron, were among those preparing a challenge but it was Cantlow which emerged as the nearest danger to Double Ross, which tired but survived by two lengths.
"He finished really well," said Sam Twiston-Davies "The last 100 yards were a bit scary, but he's very genuine."