All grit: The New One makes history with fourth consecutive victory
If you want to beat the January blues next year, head to Haydock on the third Saturday of the month and let The New One lift your spirits.
For the fourth year in a row, the legendary hurdler lit up a dank day at the course with a performance full of guts and glory to win the Unibet Champion Hurdle Trial.
On his first start at the age of ten, The New One posted arguably his best victory of the historic quartet after fighting back to overhaul Ch'Tibello, who was getting 6lb and three years from the heroic winner.
Having broke through the £1 million prize-money barrier when second to Buveur D’Air in the Christmas Hurdle last month, The New One struck for the 20th time in 36 starts to give trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies and owners Sarah Such and Gino Paletta another big payday.
"He's a horse of a lifetime," said Twiston-Davies. "You've got to take your hat off to him, he's a little superstar."
The similarities to The New One's previous successes in the £75,000 contest were uncannily striking. On deep ground that does not play to his strengths, he was far from fluent at a number of the hurdles and showed a tendency to jump out to his right.
Aware of this trait, Ch'Tibello's rider Harry Skelton charted a course on the inside and his mount travelled ominously well into contention in behind The New One.
Ch'Tibello took over the lead when asked for full effort after the final flight, but The New One battled back under the trainer's son Sam for a heart-warming half-length victory.
"Four times he's won this race and he's never done it well," said the trainer. "He's not at his best on heavy ground but he's tough and outbattled a horse he was giving 6lb."
In the past four seasons, The New One has contested the Champion Hurdle but connections are sticking with the plan to step up in trip for the Sun Bets Stayers' Hurdle, for which he was cut in places but remained a best-priced 14-1.
"He appears to be better than ever this season and he'll go straight for the Stayers' now," added Twiston-Davies. "He's still got the entry in the Champion if the wheels fall off all the other wagons. The Stayers' looks the easier option this time and if he stays and has that sort of power at the end, we'll be all right wouldn't we?"
It showed you everything you need to know about The New One's universal popularity that Skelton could not resist giving the old warrior a congratulatory pat as the pair pulled up after the line.
Magnanimous in defeat, the jockey said: "For a few strides I thought I'd got him, but what a legend of a horse The New One is. I wish we had one like him.
"We were delighted with Ch'Tibello, particularly on that ground, but the best horse won today, make no mistake."
'Why we should all love horse racing' - reaction to The New One
The New One........ Why we should all love horse racing.— Paddy Brennan (@PaddyBrennan81) January 20, 2018
You would have thought that The New One race was @Ascot the amount of cheering going on at the finish.— Richard Hoiles (@RichardHoiles) January 20, 2018
A superb run from Ch'tibello in the Champion Hurdle Trial @haydockraces but hats off to The New One...what an incredible racehorse— Dan Skelton Racing (@DSkeltonRacing) January 20, 2018
If you enjoyed this, you should read: 'The Champion Hurdle is the one that got away – I’m sure he would have won it'