Nicky Henderson was fighting back the tears after perennial bridesmaid My Tent Or Yours secured a heartwarming success in the Unibet International Hurdle at Cheltenham.
The 10-year-old has won nine of his 24 starts, but is best known for chasing homed Jezki, Annie Power and stablemate Buveur D’Air in three renewals of the Champion Hurdle.
His 11 runner-up finishes also include a narrow defeat in the 2013 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and when beating all bar The New One in this Grade Two contest 12 months ago, but he refused to be denied his day in the sun on his latest visit to Prestbury Park.
An emotional Henderson said: “He has been second in three Champion Hurdles and all sorts of places.
“It is wrong to say every dog has its day as he is much better than a dog.
“There was three in line going to the last. What a great horse race it was, one of the great horse races, with him and The New One again.”
The New One set out to make all the running in his bid to claim this prestigious prize for a fourth time, with My Tent Or Yours and the Willie Mullins-trained 7-4 favourite Melon waiting in the wings for much of the two-mile journey.
The big three came down to the final flight together, with The New One sandwiched between My Tent Or Yours on the rail and the strong-travelling Melon on the far side.
They settled down to fight it out and for a horse whose gumption has on occasion been questioned, Henderson’s inmate knuckled down admirably to prevail by a length and a quarter from his old rival, with Melon a further length away in third.
Henderson said: “I think the real emotion, and why that meant so much, is because when Buveur D’Air beat him here in the Champion Hurdle last year I felt like a complete fiend.
“Beating your own horse that had been second twice that felt awful. Me and JP (McManus, owner) both went to ‘Tent’ after the Champion Hurdle only to say, ‘Well done mate’.
“He is special and we have had him since he was a three-year-old. When you live with them for seven years you become quite attached to them.”
On future plans, the Seven Barrows handler added: “We are not retiring I’m sure. We’ve got to map it out and find somewhere to go.
“What we do now I’ve no idea. I’m sure he will run in the Champion Hurdle as he has to.
“He is no spring chicken – a bit like me – and joints and things are quite creaky.”
Nigel Twiston-Davies was proud of The New One´s performance in defeat (Nick Potts/PA)
The New One’s trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies Said: “He has run a superb race, probably the race of his life conceding 6lb.
“He will go to Haydock (Champion Hurdle Trial, January 20) and he has got to come back here for the Stayers’ Hurdle after that.”
David Mullins rode Melon, who was having just his fifth run over hurdles, and felt his inexperience told at the business end of the race.
Mullins said: “He travelled very well and I thought I’d a great chance going down to the last and winged it. Those seasoned horses were probably a bit tougher at the finish.”
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