Hatch takes over on Twiston-Davies star for chase debut
Connections of former top hurdler The New One will be keeping their fingers crossed Exeter passes an early-morning inspection as the eight-year-old is set to make his eagerly awaited chase debut where he will be partnered for the first time by Ryan Hatch.
Nigel Twiston-Davies’s star has not been seen in public since falling at Aintree last April in the Grade 1 Aintree Hurdle won by Annie Power but the trainer reported he has been pleasing at home in the run-up to his chasing bow.
He said: “If the meeting is on he will run as we have been pleased with everything he has been doing at home as he has schooled really well. I suppose it’s a day of reckoning as it’s his first run over fences but we are really looking forward to it.”
Hatch takes over from regular rider Sam Twiston-Davies, who will be aboard Frodon for his boss champion trainer Paul Nicholls, and he said: “It’s obviously a very nice ride to pick up and I've sat on him a number of times at home as I was due to ride him a couple of weeks ago but he did not run.
“All has been good in his preparation leading up to this first run over fences and we've been more than happy with everything he has done. He's jumped really well in his schooling sessions at home so he goes to Exeter in really good heart and raring to go.”
Twiston-Davies, who only returned to the saddle on Wednesday after six weeks off with a spleen injury, said: “Obviously I'd have liked to ride The New One on his chasing debut but I'm lucky enough to be Paul Nicholls’ stable jockey and he runs Frodon.”
He added: “Frodon is usually a great jumper but he just met one wrong at the top of the hill at Cheltenham last time but did very well to get back in the thick of things before finishing where he did. He will like the ground, is still only four years old, and I'm hoping he can regain the winning thread.”
Philip Hobbs saddles Rock The Kasbah, who has to concede weight to his five rivals, and the trainer said: “We've all got The New One to beat and my horse has got to give weight away all round so he does not face an easy task on the face of it. However, he's been in really good form at home so he should run his race.”
Exeter's clerk of the course Barry Johnson said on Thursday afternoon: "The forecast looks as if it will only hover around freezing this evening and we should be okay if that is correct, but if it dropped below we might have a problem.
"There are a few patches in the back straight under the trees that are still frozen but we can get around that by bypassing the fences on that stretch. On the home turn there is also a patch or two that needs to thaw out.
"But we intend to give the meeting every chance and the ground has just been updated to soft and good to soft in places."