Challengers in late rush to face The New One

The New One, ridden by Sam Twiston-Davies
The New One, ridden by Sam Twiston-Davies
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The New One could face as many as nine rivals in the StanJames.com International Hurdle at Cheltenham on Saturday.

Nigel Twiston-Davies’ stable star has had this race as his target since winning at Haydock in November but it initially seemed he had scared off most of his potential rivals after the race was reopened on Monday.

Twiston-Davies may also run Mad Moose, who has been entered in the Relkeel Hurdle on the same card.

Nicky Henderson has entered impressive Ascot winner Sign Of A Victory and Greatwood Hurdle runner-up Vaniteux.

Venetia Williams has given Zamdy Man the option after he ran so well behind The New One at Haydock, while Tom George may run Olofi.

Dan Skelton could be responsible for Bertimont, with Pat Shanahan’s King Of The Picts, who is also engaged in the Relkeel, still in the hat.

The Lawney Hill duo of Mighty Mambo and Billy Twyford complete the list.

Bertimont was last seen finishing second in the Elite Hurdle at Wincanton and is poised to go head to head with The New One.

Skelton said: “The intention is for Bertimont to run at Cheltenham on Saturday.

“His preparation has gone very smoothly since Wincanton, and Cheltenham has always been the aim.

“We have obviously got to take on The New One in his backyard, but it is a £130,000 race and we are going to give it a go.”

Rock On Ruby is among a strong field of 12 possible runners for the Osborne House Relkeel Hurdle on the same Cheltenham card.

Harry Fry’s nine-year-old was top of the tree when beating Overturn in the 2012 Champion Hurdle, and finished second to Hurricane Fly 12 months later.

Sent chasing last season, he never recovered from an early mistake in the Arkle at Cheltenham in March and now finds himself back over hurdles. Rock On Ruby made a pleasing return to action at Wincanton and would be stepping back up in trip, having run well over two and a half miles at Aintree in the past.

Melodic Rendezvous is in the mix after the race was reopened. Trainer Jeremy Scott has also entered him over fences at Bangor on Friday.