The 2012 Grand National-winning jockey was speaking after the Nicky Henderson-trained three-year-old streaked clear to land the bet365 Summit Juvenile Hurdle after Doncaster’s pre-Christmas meeting survived three inspections because of frost.
The odds-on favourite jumped crisply and accurately from the outset to easily account for dual winner Starchitect by 19 lengths and is now 6-1 joint-favourite for the National Hunt Festival’s juvenile championship with bookmakers William Hill.
The win also vindicates Jacob’s decision to go freelance, and become leading owner Simon Munir’s retained rider, after losing the stable jockey’s role with champion trainer Paul Nicholls to Sam Twiston-Davies.
“It wasn’t the plan to make the running, but he was lovely and settled in second or third, but then horses behind me lit him up a bit too much,” said Jacob, who has a made remarkable recovery from the multiple injuries that he suffered at Cheltenham in March.
“When he got to the front he relaxed and he was great. He really picked up in the home straight and was very quick and slick at his hurdles.
“He feels a bit special.
“He’s always been very smooth at home. He was very quick over French hurdles so I knew he’d be the same over these. I think that will stand him in very good stead. He reminds me a lot of Zarkandar.”
Jacob had earlier won on Grandads Horse, who had to withstand course specialist Night In Milan’s late rally in the bet365.com Handicap Chase.
However, the Saltburn father and son team of Keith and James Reveley will be delighted with their horse, who was conceding weight to the winner – the Crabbies Grand National remains the ultimate target.
They were also buoyed by stable favourite Robbie’s last-gasp win in the opener.
As well as Peace And Co, there were two other Cheltenham clues on Town Moor.
Neil King’s Zeroshadesofgrey galloped into Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle contention with a runaway win, while Virak looks a notable novice chaser from the yard of Nicholls.
He denied Sue Smith’s ultra-game Wakanda an all-the-way success in the bet365 December Novices’ Chase for which the four fences in the straight were omitted on both circuits due to the low sun.
“It wasn’t ideal for us as he’s very good at his jumping and he stays every yard of three miles,” said Scholfield, who was completing a double of his own after partnering Kashmir Peak to a welcome win for Malton trainer John Quinn at the end of a week that saw him lose the classy Cockney Sparrow to colic.
As for Cheltenham, The New One confirmed his Champion Hurdle credentials with an imposing performance to land successive renewals of the StanJames.com International Hurdle at Cheltenham.
Nigel Twiston-Davies feels his stable star has never been given the credit his record of 13 wins from 18 starts deserves and that he comes in for some unfair criticism in certain quarters.
An unlucky third in last year’s Champion Hurdle when badly hampered, the six-year-old will be Britain’s main challenger – fitness permitting – in next March’s renewal against a formidably strong Irish challenge headed by the Willie Mullins-trained Faugheen.
This win was a welcome change of luck for the trainer’s son Sam, who had earlier crashed through the wings of a fence when novice chaser Little Jon ran out and then pulled up Caid Du Berlais after the Paddy Power Gold Cup winner slipped on landing in the day’s feature chase won by Niceonefrankie.
It is credit to the 22-year-old’s composure that he then helped The New One produce such a fine display of jumping to pull clear of the well-handicapped Vaniteux.
“He’s excellent. Coming into the race, we had to win it to become a Champion Hurdle contender,” said the jockey. “He wasn’t flashy, but when he comes to the track he does what he needs to.”
Options for The New One are now thin on the ground, but there is a slim possibility he could clash with Faugheen in the Christmas Hurdle on Boxing Day.
One footnote from the race was the retirement of the winner’s enigmatic stablemate Mad Moose.
Banned by the BHA after planting himself at the start of several races, he was given a final reprieve. However, ‘Bad’ Moose’s recalcitrance returned and he will not race again.
“It will be a red card. He’s been brilliant, but he’s intelligent. He’s very kind and gentle and a lovely horse,” said Twiston-Davies senior, who was completing a double after young prospect Blaklion won impressively for the same connections of The New One.
The day ended with a heartwarming win for 2012 champion hurdler Rock On Ruby in the Relkeel Hurdle over an extended two-and-a-half miles under Noel Fehily.
He could still become a Ladbrokes World Hurdle contender next March over three miles.
“It’s great to see him back in the winner’s enclosure,” said winning trainer Harry Fry, whose two-week-old daughter, the appropriately-named Ruby, was present to see the win.
“While he’s obviously not a slow horse, this is more his trip nowadays.”