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Tony McCoy's whip ban rules him out of Irish Grand National


Jockey Tony McCoy

Jockey Tony McCoy

Jockey Tony McCoy

It was thought the Doom Bar Aintree Hurdle would provide a simple way for connections of The New One to start picking up the pieces of their Cheltenham Festival disappointment - but it proved a far closer-run thing as the 4-9 favourite held on by the skin of his teeth.

Although trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies and his jockey-son Sam are generally laid-back characters, both were fairly distraught after he was badly hampered by the fatal fall of Our Conor in the Champion Hurdle and could only recover third place behind Jezki and My Tent Or Yours.

Last year The New One was beaten half a length by Zarkandar in this two-and-a-half-mile test and despite improving in leaps and bounds through the subsequent months, he was pushed tremendously hard by Rock On Ruby and Diakali, surviving by the margin of just a head and a nose.

"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 line," said Sam Twiston-Davies.

"He was hit and miss, jumping wise. I didn't quite get into the same rhythm as I did in the Champion Hurdle.

"He probably had a hard enough race (at Cheltenham) which took off some sparkle, but you can't underestimate how good a performance that was.

"Everyone seems to judge your season on the way Cheltenham goes. If it doesn't go right, it's hard.

"But then there's only one Aintree Hurdle every year, too, it's a brilliant race."

Paul Nicholls' pair Ptit Zig and Irish Saint made the running for most of the way until passed in the home straight by Rock On Ruby, the 2012 Champion Hurdler who was returning was returning to the smaller obstacles after failing to live up to expectations over fences in the Arkle Trophy.

Rock On Ruby and Diakali moved towards the far rail of the track as The New One, who had given the leaders a reasonable amount of rope, charged along the stands.

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It was hard to tell which side had the advantage but The New One was perhaps always in front from the final flight.

Nigel Twiston-Davies said: "He's the best horse we've ever had. Everyone looks for a horse like this and we've got one.

"We wanted him to be the best ever and to win four Champion Hurdles, and he didn't win the first. Maybe we're just too greedy and should have been delighted with third. Maybe he could have won, but we hoped he could.

"He didn't get the chance to prove he was unlucky - apparently he made up eight lengths on the second horse, and how many lengths did he lose?

"Everything is laid out for that (next season's Champion Hurdle).

"That's it for the season, and we'll come back early next year and see which way we go."

Young Dorset trainer Harry Fry described Rock On Ruby as "one in a million".

He said: "I'm thrilled to bits with him. He puts his heart on the line and he tries.

"On his day, he's a very good hurdler and that's what we'll stick to. You won't see him over fences again.

"Noel (Fehily) has got off him and said we've got to train him for the two-mile race (Champion Hurdle) next year.

"Good ground is key to him and, on his day, he's a fantastic horse."

The Willie Mullins-trained Diakali ran a fine race to finish fourth under top-weight in the County Hurdle at Cheltenham and also performed admirably on this return to Grade One level.

However, jockey Tony McCoy was found to have used his whip above the permitted level and was handed a four-day suspension (April 17 and 19-21), which means he misses the Irish Grand National meeting at Fairyhouse.

Mullins said: "It was a good run. He has improved, and when he learns to settle better he'll improve again.

"He'll go to Punchestown for something now."

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