Yanworth inherited the crown vacated by Faugheen, as he worked hard from a long way out to land the Grade 1 32Red.com Christmas Hurdle at Kempton Park.
A disappointing field of five went to post for this valuable two mile contest and at the off it was The New One who went on from old rival My Tent Or Yours, with the rank outsider Gray Wolf River third and then Yanworth and Ch’ Tibello.
Heading out and down the back straight, The New One and Sam Twiston-Davies continued to dictate from My Tent Or Yours and then Yanworth in third, ahead of Ch’ Tibello, as the mare Gray Wolf River started to drop away.
The front two started to duel for the lead and jumped the fifth together, a couple of lengths ahead of Yanworth and Ch-Tibello.
The front pair landed in unison three out, with Yanworth closing but under pressure to do so, as the field turned for home.
Still nothing separated the front pair, with Yanworth under hard work to join issue.
The New One took two out in front of My Tent Or Yours, with Yanworth still staying on and hitting the front at the last.
Yanworth landed in front and surged clear under Barry Geraghty, beating The New One by three lengths, with Ch’ Tibello staying on past the disappointing My Tent Or Yours for third place.
The Alan King trained Yanworth, a 6 year old, was a smart novice hurdler last term, winning all of his starts before finding Yorkhill too good at Cheltenham. This was his first Grade 1 success.
King said: “I’m relieved. I thought today was a bit against us. Kempton is a sharp track and we didn’t get the rain I was hoping for in the week. I’m delighted. I thought we were vulnerable today.
“Ascot probably stood him in good stead. He had to battle that day and it helped him.
“My horses were a bit short then and he needed it. He needed a bit of match practice. It was all very well winning last season without coming off the bridle, but horses have to learn. He learnt a lot at Ascot and again today.”
He went on: “Barry was right behind the first two so he was in the right place. He’s dug in and the further they went the better.
“We weren’t sure (about best trip) which is why we stuck him in over two and a half at Ascot. We were going to go up but Unowhatimeanharry came on the scene, so we changed our plan. It’s worked very well.
“But for Unowhatimeanharry, we were in the Long Walk two weeks ago. It’s a big step in the right direction.
“I wouldn’t mind if we went straight to Cheltenham. I’ll speak to JP (McManus, owner) and Frank (Berry (racing manager). I wouldn’t mind that.
“He doesn’t take a lot of work. He might have one more race for match practice, I don’t know. I’ll speak to the team, but I’d be relaxed if we went straight to Cheltenham.”
Geraghty said: “He battled well. I had to work a little bit before the turn in, but when we straightened up he came alive.
“He was good and accurate at the last. He’s learning a lot from last year and physically, he’s a good bit stronger.
“It was a good, solid race. The New One and My Tent went a good gallop and there was no place to hide.
“It looks like he’s a Champion Hurdle horse. You’d imagine Cheltenham being a stiffer track would suit better.
“He did it well today.”
Trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies was pleased with The New One’s effort.
He said: “He ran really well. Whether he (My Tent Or Yours) was put in there to harass us, maybe that has made the difference.
“Yanworth was the first off the bridle and his jumping was not great, but they are the winners and we are not.”
Dan Skelton was also satisfied with Ch’tibello, saying: “I am happy with that. He maybe just found real Grade One pace a little hot mid-way, but he has actually stayed on really well and there was a question mark in his locker about his ability to stay.
“He will probably go for the Kingwell Hurdle and he will get an entry in the Champion.”