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14 Feb 2011 | 19:15
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New takes Neptune testHeadlines
The New One

Only five go to post for the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham, but Festival clues are certainly on offer.

The Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained The New One, outright favourite for the race of the same name in March, will put his credentials on the line after proving immensely impressive in three races over timber to date.

Jockey Sam Twiston-Davies said: "We'd be keen for a good gallop, but he's some animal. It's a very competitive race, but what he did at Warwick was very special indeed. He was visually very impressive that day, but I also think he has a lot of resilience if it comes to a battle."

He went on: "The only thing, possibly, is that this race is two weeks after the Warwick race, but he only really had a canter that day, so it's probably not that big a deal. It will probably be very tacky ground, but he's won on soft ground and it will be the same for everyone. He's a proper horse."

Rebecca Curtis's At Fishers Cross has progressed at a rate of knots this season. Three wins, the latest in a handicap at Cheltenham, have really caught the eye.

The trainer said: "I wouldn't say he's surprised me as we've always thought he was a good horse. He's taken a bit of time to click, but he is clearly progressing.

"I think he deserves to run in a race like this as he's been there and done it in good handicaps. This heavy ground seems to help his jumping, so that might come in handy at the weekend. He seems a horse on the up."

The Mark Bradstock-trained Coneygree has amassed a big following in three wins this season, which is not surprising given he is a half-brother to his Hennessy-winning stablemate Carruthers. Mattie Batchelor is the man on board and he is not too concerned about the step back to two and a half miles.

The jockey said: "When someone comes at him, he goes again. He's got a competitive edge and you'd rather have that than not. It's a good race with The New One and At Fishers Cross. He could easily run a good race and get beat, but enhance his Festival claims.

"We've won over this trip in bad ground and it will be a test. They're all stayers. You have to respect the others, but I like my fellow. I think you'd have to say he's ahead of Carruthers at the same stage. He's a much bigger stamp of a horse. He has ability, but it's his heart that makes him what he is."

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