THE New One will face a maximum of six rivals in the StanJames.com Champion Hurdle Trial at Haydock on Saturday.
The Grade Two contest still received a single figure entry despite being re-opened following the initial deadline on Monday.
The New One, winner of all his three starts this term including a very fluent success at Haydock in November, has been declared an intended runner by his trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies as part of his preparation for Cheltenham’s Champion Hurdle, in which he was third last March.
Dan Skelton’s Bertimont, who was sixth to The New One in the International Hurdle at Cheltenham last month, could renew rivalry on Merseyside.
Desert Cry, trained by Donald McCain, has been campaigned over fences for the last couple of seasons but was second in this race three years ago.
Oliver Sherwood has put in his novice Got The Nac while Richard Ford’s Swaledale Lad and Strongpoint and Trucking Along, trained in Ireland by Stuart Crawford, make up the seven possibles.
Got The Nac also has the option of the Sky Bet Supreme Trial Novices’ Hurdle on the same card.
Anthony Bromley, manager for owners Million In Mind Partnership, said: “Got The Nac made all when he won at Lingfield just before Christmas in very heavy ground.
“We have also put him in the Champion Hurdle Trial on the same card at Haydock and we will just monitor the situation as to which race we will go for.
“With the conditions likely to be heavy again at Haydock on Saturday, he will definitely be going there, we just need to decide for which race.”
Peter Moody, the Australian trainer best known for his expert handling of the great Black Caviar, could face a lengthy ban after one of his horses tested positive for the drug cobalt.
Racing Victoria stewards announced the Moody-trained Lidari produced a positive test when finishing second in the Group One Turnbull Stakes at Flemington.
He then went on to run in the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups, two of Australia’s biggest races.
Moody himself broke the news by releasing the following statement to the Australian media: “I am devastated to be informed by Racing Victoria Stewards that one of my horses has tested positive to a banned substance during the 2014 spring carnival. I have no knowledge or understanding as to how this could occur.”
Black Caviar won all 25 of her career starts, including the 2012 Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot when she just held on from the fast finishing Midnight Cloud after jockey Luke Nolen inexplicably dropped his hands in the shadow of the winning post.
Lucinda Russell is targeting another veterans’ chase at Newbury for Lie Forrit after the 11-year-old won for the second time in three starts this season at Kelso on Sunday.
The Kinross trainer is considering sending Lie Forrit on the long journey down to Berkshire on Greatwood Charity Raceday on February 28 after he maintained his fine form with a two-length verdict over Harry The Viking.
“I was really pleased and he’s come out of the race really well,” said Russell.
“We’ll probably look at Newbury in February for another veterans’ chase.”
Melodic Rendezvous is reported to be recovering from a slight setback that has delayed his second run over fences.
A pulled muscle has prevented trainer Jeremy Scott from getting his stable star back on the track after the Grade One-winning hurdler made a winning debut over the bigger obstacles at Bangor in mid-December.
Tom Scudamore is just two winners short of his fastest century of winners after the success of Todd at Fakenham yesterday.
Today’s meetings at Newcastle and Newbury must pass early morning inspections while Friday’s card at Chepstow is already in doubt because of waterlogging.
Those hoping the Newcastle fixture gets the green light includes North Yorkshire jockey Danny Cook who has been recovering from a broken collarbone. He is attached to the Brian Ellison and Sue Smith stables.