Tag Archive for: Nigel Twiston-Davies

No rush to make plans for Bristol De Mai after gallant Lingfield effort

Connections of Bristol De Mai are to let the dust settle before they make plans for the popular grey following his fine run in defeat at Lingfield on Sunday.

The 11-year-old, owned by Simon Munir and Isaac Souede, was only beaten three-quarters of a length in third place behind Two For Gold and Dashel Drasher in a thrilling race for the Fleur De Lys Chase over a distance short of Bristol De Mai’s best.

The Cheltenham Festival looks highly unlikely after Bristol De Mai was not entered for the Gold Cup in which he was third in 2019.

“He’s fine. He ran really well. It was just the trip was a bit too short for him. It was very good,” said trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies.

“I don’t know where he’ll go next, it’s too early. We’ll talk to the owners and see what happens.

“It’s doubtful he’ll go to Cheltenham for the Festival. We’ll see what the owners want to do.”

Twiston-Davies backing Bristol to bounce back at Lingfield

Nigel Twiston-Davies believes Bristol De Mai still retains all his old ability ahead of the inaugural running of the Fleur De Lys Chase at Lingfield on Sunday.

The popular grey, a multiple winner of the Betfair Chase, has recently turned 11 and has been pulled up on his last two outings.

But as they were in the Grand National with top-weight and in this season’s Betfair Chase on unsuitably quick ground, Twiston-Davies feels he has a valid excuse for both.

“It is a big weekend. We’re all happy with Bristol De Mai. We just don’t know what the ground will be like. They have had the sheets on for ages, so it could be gluey,” he said.

“There is nothing wrong with him. I don’t think anyone is going to understand quite what the ground is going to be at Lingfield. It was heavy ground when they put the covers on. Will the covers make it absolutely tacky? It will be interesting to see what happens.

“Two-mile-six around Lingfield is a stiff old track. It would be the same stamina as three miles round Haydock. All I can tell is that he is cheerful, and really well and fit.

“He certainly has the zest and appetite and goes up the gallop every day as though it is his first time.”

Anthony Bromley is racing manager for Bristol De Mai’s owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede and hopes there is at least one more big performance in him.

He said: “He has a 6lb penalty to carry for last season’s Betfair Chase win, but I think he goes there with a great chance. Sparky (Richard Bevis, head lad), who rides him at home, says he is full of zest and in as good a form as he has been for ages.

“Bristol is an awesome sight on a going day in the right conditions. He just grinds his rivals into submission and let’s hope he can wind the clock back and do it again.”

Jeremy Scott’s stable star Dashel Drasher won over hurdles last time out and his trainer had been tempted to remain over the small obstacles, but the huge prize money on offer swayed him.

“We wanted to get a run into him at Newbury as we could see the ground wasn’t going to be great through January, so we went there to get a race into him,” he said.

“He looked relatively well treated over hurdles and thankfully it came off.

Dashel Drasher on his way to his latest victory
Dashel Drasher on his way to his latest victory (David Davies/PA)

“He’s won over two-six before but not on that sort of ground, I’m not sure he’s even run on it. Lingfield is quite a unique test when it’s like this, so it will stretch our stamina.

“A lot of the opposition are nearer three-milers than two-milers, so we have to conserve energy but use our pace at certain times. We’ll have a good look tactically about how to ride him.

“Bristol De Mai appears to have had this as his Gold Cup for the year, he’s a dour stayer who will love the ground.

“The target has always been to win the race at Ascot he won last year, but quite frankly this race matches it for prize money, if not kudos yet. We then have the option of the Ascot race or one of the festivals in the spring. If it comes off it will be very exciting.”

Itchy Feet in action at Sandown
Itchy Feet in action at Sandown (Steven Paston/PA)

Itchy Feet has filled the runner-up spot in the Old Roan Chase at Aintree and behind Bravemansgame at Haydock so far this season and trainer Olly Murphy is anticipating another bold showing.

He said: “Gavin Sheehan schooled him on Thursday and he was happy. I’m looking forward to running him.

“Looking at his Aintree run and his Haydock run, I don’t see any reason why he can’t run very well.

“It’s unbelievable prize-money and if he turns up on his A-game he’d have an each-way chance.”

Master Tommytucker (Paul Nicholls), Fanion D’Estruval (Venetia Williams), Lieutenant Rocco (Harriet Brown) and Two For Gold (Kim Bailey) complete the field.

Good Boy Bobby set for National service

Nigel Twiston-Davies is targeting the Randox Grand National with Good Boy Bobby after his gutsy success in the Grade Three Rowland Meyrick Handicap Chase at Wetherby on Boxing Day.

The 4-1 joint-second favourite made virtually all in the hands of the trainer’s son Sam, digging deep to hold off Lord Du Mesnil and Top Ville Ben, who both tried and failed to go past the game eight-year-old in the closing stages.

That was Good Boy Bobby’s second victory of the season at the West Yorkshire track, with his sole loss of the campaign coming in a thrilling finish of the Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle, where he lost nothing in defeat by finishing second to the consistent Aye Right.

The Naunton handler reports Good Boy Bobby to be none the worse for his exertions and is working towards the marathon contest on April 9 with his charge.

Twiston-Davies, who has won the famous race twice in the past with Earth Summit (1998) and Bindaree (2002), said: “Good Boy Bobby is fine, 100 percent.

“It was obviously a hard race (at Wetherby) so we’ll give him four or five weeks rest now, then it’ll be one more run and onto the Grand National – just don’t ask me where!”

When asked to assess Good Boy Bobby’s Aintree credentials, Twiston-Davies was fairly optimistic, suggesting now is the ideal time to have a tilt at the world’s most famous steeplechase.

“I hope he’s a National type. He’s quite buzzy so whether he be might just be that little bit too keen, you never know, but he’s getting more settled as he gets older so we hope he’ll be all right,” he said.

Zambella lifts Silver Vase in impressive fashion

Zambella made virtually every yard of the running in the hands of Sam Twiston-Davies to impressively scoop the feature Yorkshire Silver Vase Mares’ Chase at Doncaster.

Trained by the jockey’s father Nigel Twiston-Davies, the evens favourite produced some electric jumping on Town Moor as she landed the fifth Listed success of her career and sauntered home an eased down 15-lengths clear of plucky runner-up Crossgalesfamegame.

It was the perfect way for the six-year-old to follow up her equally taking victory at Aintree earlier this month and earn quotes of 10-1 for the Mares’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March.

Twiston-Davies snr was ecstatic with the performance saying: “She’s a really good horse. That’s five of these Listed races she’s won now and I’m delighted with her, she’s done really well.

“It’ll be one more run then back to Cheltenham. I’m a long way from home so not a clue where, but there’s plenty of time to have a look and figure something out.”

Galah (evens favourite) hunted down the front-running Pump It Up late on to open her account in the Download The At The Races App Fillies’ Juvenile Maiden Hurdle.

It was a fine ride from Mitchell Bastyan and winning handler Milton Harris was delighted with Galah’s pilot.

He said: “Mitch has given her a good ride, I said to him be patient, patient, patient and she was always going to get there after the last.

“She probably wasn’t as impressive as at Cheltenham last time. She’s better than what she has shown today.

“She’s coped with a bit of cut but she’s not the biggest and would benefit from better ground.”

Harris also highlighted his intention to return to Town Moor next month, before a possible tilt at the Cheltenham Festival in the spring.

“There’s a juvenile fillies’ Listed race back at Doncaster (on January 28) for her next.

“I’m not convinced of the strength in depth of the juveniles this year and she might just make up into a Boodles contender, but at the moment I’ll keep her to her own sex, because I think she’s probably one of the best juvenile fillies in the country right now,” he said.

There was a double on the day for Paul Nicholls who scored with Gala Du Corton in the Free Tips Daily On attheraces.com Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle and with Thyme Whyte, who opened his fences account in the attheraces.com Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase.

Gala Du Corton (11-2) took advantage of the favourite, Sacre Pierre, coming down at the last to canter home in splendid isolation when making a winning handicap bow in the opener, while Bryony Frost stalked long-time leader Nero Rock all the way up the Town Moor straight aboard Thyme Whyte (85-40 favourite), before cruising clear to record a bloodless success after the last.

However, Nicholls was denied a treble when Kalooki (9-2) edged out Cat Tiger in the Sky Sports Racing Sky 415 Handicap Chase.

In a thrilling finish, Philip Hobbs’ charge took over after the last, only to be headed by the David Maxwell-ridden runner-up, before then reasserting his supremacy in the shadow of the post.

However, there was a sting in the tail for winning rider Tom O’Brien, who picked up a two-day ban (January 12 and 13) for using his whip without giving his mount time to respond after jumping the final fence.

Surrey Quest (11-1) brought up an across-the-card double for owners Surrey Racing, after Gran Luna’s win at Newbury, when following up his victory at Leicester to take the British EBF ‘National Hunt’ Novices’ Hurdle in the hands of Nathan Brennan.

The son of Milan, who is unbeaten over hurdles, has thrived following wind surgery and provided the 7lb claimer with his first winner of the season.

“It’s been a long time coming and was well needed, but thanks to the boss and the owners for having the faith in me to put me up on such a nice ride,” the jockey told Sky Sports Racing.

“I probably hit the front a little early on him, but he was jumping and travelling and I didn’t want to disappoint him.

“He’s still a bit of a baby, but he’ll come on a ton for that run and he’s a really nice horse.”

Lingfield could prove tempting for Bristol De Mai team

Nigel Twiston-Davies has identified the inaugural Winter Million Chase at Lingfield as a potential target for Bristol De Mai.

The popular grey was pulled up when bidding for a third victory in last month’s Betfair Chase at Haydock, with connections putting his disappointing effort down to the unseasonably dry ground.

Twiston-Davies reports his stable stalwart to be none the worse and plans to run him again after the turn of the year – either in Lingfield’s £150,000 feature on January 23 or the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham the following weekend.

Bristol De Mai enjoying life on the gallops at home
Bristol De Mai enjoying life on the gallops at home (Nick Potts/PA)

“He’s 100 per cent,” said the Naunton handler.

“There’s a new race at Lingfield – a valuable race over two-six (two miles and six furlongs). We could easily look at that and there’s the Cotswold Chase, those sort of things.

“He’s in good heart and the rain has come now, which was too late for Haydock obviously.

“I always say he doesn’t actually love heavy ground, but he handles it better than anybody else.”

Dream result for Twiston-Davies

Guard Your Dreams picked up his biggest prize to date when taking the Unibet International Hurdle at Cheltenham.

The five-year-old, trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies, battled on bravely up the hill to land the Grade Two contest in a driving finish.

Olly Murphy’s veteran Hunters Call appeared to have the race in safe keeping as he travelled smoothly into contention on the bridle.

He jumped the last in front but Guard Your Dreams had yet to be asked for a serious effort and engaged top gear on the run to the line.

Having shrugged off that danger, Guard Your Dreams (5-1) knuckled down stoutly for Sam Twiston-Davies to keep last year’s winner Song For Someone at bay by half-a-length.

The winner was introduced at 33-1 for the Unibet Champion Hurdle with Paddy Power and Betfair.

Twiston-Davies said: “We won this a few times with The New One and Ballyandy was narrowly beaten once or twice, giving weight to good horses. It’s very pleasing to be back here again.

“We’ve had two seconds in novice chases today and we’d have been happy with second here. According to the handicapper we couldn’t win, but we did.

“He’s just a nice, young horse who is improving. He toughed it out and galloped to the line.

“We’ll definitely look at the Champion Hurdle Trial at Haydock. I think the Champion Hurdle – the Irish have got a say in that, but we’ll think about it.”

The Newest One strikes at Doncaster

The Newest One did his bit to uphold family honour by securing his second victory of the season at Doncaster on Friday.

The Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained six-year-old is a half-brother to the Naunton handler’s former stable star The New One, who won 20 races and earned over £1million during an illustrious career.

His younger sibling will never match those achievements, but showed he has inherited at least some of the family ability with a clear-cut success on Town Moor.

A winner on his reappearance at Newton Abbot before finishing second at Warwick three weeks ago, The Newest One was a 15-8 chance for the Eden Farm Hulleys Novices’ Handicap Chase under Zac Baker.

The Newest One in full flight at Doncaster
The Newest One in full flight at Doncaster (Tim Goode/PA)

While two of his three rivals failed to finish, and his jumping was not always foot-perfect, there was plenty to like about the way he saw off 11-10 favourite Huntsmans Jog by eight and a half lengths.

Baker, who steered The New One to victory in the 2017 Welsh Champion Hurdle, told Sky Sports Racing: “I’m delighted. I was a little bit worried he wasn’t as fluent today with his jumping, but to be fair to him, every time we got in tight or missed a fence he was straight back there.

“I had quite a bit left in the tank. Maybe he’s a bit better than he’s showing.

“He’s quite a genuine little chap. He’s never going to be as good as his namesake, but he’s a good-looking horse and I definitely think the further he goes the better.

“Races like the Welsh National, Midlands National and Scottish National would be ideal for him.”

Lyrical Genius (left) jumps the final flight
Lyrical Genius (left) jumps the final flight (Tim Goode/PA)

Lyrical Genius narrowly maintained his unbeaten record in the Cadbury Flake 99 Novices’ Hurdle.

A point-to-point winner in the spring, the Milan gelding made a winning debut for Charlie Longsdon in a bumper at Warwick in September.

Sean Quinlan’s mount was a 7-2 chance for his hurdling bow and after a stirring duel with Godrevy Point, the judge confirmed he had come out on top by a short head.

“He’s a lovely youngster. He was a never a bumper horse, but he won a bumper from the front and Brian Hughes said afterwards ‘this is not his game at all’ – he was very green,” said Longsdon.

“He’s a three-mile chaser and we will not push hard this season. We’ll probably step up to three miles at some stage.”

Lyrical Genius was a second winner on the afternoon for Quinlan, who had earlier guided John Mackie’s Barton Knoll to win the ICD Members Handicap Chase for the second year in succession.

In another pulsating finish, the 11-8 favourite just managed to repel the late thrust of Dino Velvet by a short head.

The Mel Rowley-trained Ginger Du Val (11-2) made all in the Kelly’s Ice Cream Handicap Hurdle under a fine ride by amateur Ben Bromley, while Dan Skelton teamed up with 7lb claimer Tristan Durrell to claim the Walls Classic Century Of Ice Cream Handicap Hurdle with 13-2 chance Starsky.

Several fences were omitted in the concluding Eeazy Combo Handicap Chase due to low sun and it was Gary Hanmer’s Sir Tivo (5-1) who outspeeded his rivals in the straight to score under Robbie Dunne.

Bristol De Mai none the worse for Betfair Chase exertions

Nigel Twiston-Davies feels three-time Betfair Chase winner Bristol De Mai lost nothing in defeat at the hands of the impressive A Plus Tard at Haydock on Saturday.

Going into the race, the popular grey had won five of his six races at the Merseyside track in a stellar career, and was bidding to emulate Kauto Star’s four victories in the Grade One event.

However, in a strong renewal, the 10-year-old was pulled up before two out, with Daryl Jacob looking after the stable star.

Twiston-Davies would like to see more ease in the ground at this stage of his career. He said: “He’s fine. He is obviously not as fast as he was, in a quality race and on that ground. So, he’ll be all right.

“It was a very strong race and he ran well for a way, and you can’t fault him for what he has achieved. Daryl looked after him and that was good to see.

“I don’t know where we will go next – it is back to the drawing board.

“He obviously does need softer ground these days, but he is fit and well this morning.”

History beckons for Bristol De Mai at Haydock

Nigel Twiston-Davies has backed the “exceptional” Bristol De Mai to emulate Kauto Star by securing a record-equalling fourth victory in Saturday’s Betfair Chase.

It is 10 years since Kauto Star brought the house down at Haydock for the fourth and final time, a feat which means the Paul Nicholls-trained superstar is immortalised in bronze on Merseyside.

Twiston-Davies is hoping his long-time stable star can earn similar recognition this weekend by adding to his previous triumphs in 2017, 2018 and 2020.

He said: “Bristol De Mai is really special to us – he has been exceptional.

“We were lucky to have both him and The New One going great guns at the same time.

“Bristol hasn’t quite won the Gold Cup I always wanted, but he was third once and he’s doing OK.

“It would be just great to equal Kauto Star. He would be remembered forever and who knows, there may even be a race named after him!”

The flying grey has won five of his six starts at Haydock overall, his only defeat coming in this race when runner-up to Lostintranslation two years ago.

Bristol De Mai has been off the track since being pulled up in the Grand National in April and is not getting any younger at the age of 10, but Twiston-Davies is confident he is at the top of his game.

“He’s easy to get fit, that’s the beauty of it, and we’re all primed and ready to go,” said the Naunton-based trainer.

“There was one year where he was second and that year we really struggled with lameness problems and he didn’t quite get there 100 percent.

“We’re as happy as we’ve ever been with him fitness-wise.

“The race looks as hot as ever really, but the one thing he always has in his favour is that he’s so easy to get fit and I wonder whether they all will be as fit as he is – hopefully not.”

Nigel Twiston-Davies
Nigel Twiston-Davies (Mike Egerton/PA)

Conditions at Haydock will not be as testing as is usually the case at this time of year, but Twiston-Davies is unconcerned.

He said: “The track suits him and he’s won this race on good ground before (in 2018), so hopefully it won’t be a problem.

“It’s just a superb track, I love the track and it seems to suit our horses.

“Bristol likes to be able to boss races and there are two long straights and easy bends, so he can just get out there and do his stuff.”

Waiting Patiently has not managed to get his head in front since beating Cue Card at in the 2018 Ascot Chase, but has won at Haydock before and new trainer Christian Williams is excited about his chances.

Waiting Patiently (right) beating Cue Card at Ascot
Waiting Patiently (right) beating Cue Card at Ascot (Julian Herbert/PA)

“He’s very classy and we just pray we can run him on Saturday. As long as the ground doesn’t get any quicker, I think we’ll take our chance,” said the Welsh handler.

“We’re confident. We’ve only had him a few months, but we don’t think we can get him any better.

“It’s a sharp track, flat track and he’s got form round there, so I think he’s got plenty in his favour.”

Another horse who has already shown an affinity for the track is the Venetia Williams-trained Royale Pagaille, who was a brilliant winner of the Peter Marsh Chase over the course and distance in January.

He finished lame when a well-beaten sixth in the Gold Cup in the spring, but is reported to be in good form ahead of his return by jockey Charlie Deutsch.

He said: “He has proven he can win a good race off top-weight in a good handicap and we know he likes the track, which is a bonus.

“He picked up a foot injury in the Gold Cup. His jumping was not as good as it normally is and whether that was down to the foot I don’t know. I’m not looking into that result too much as hopefully he is still improving.

“I’ve done a bit of schooling on him at home and I’ve done a few pieces of work on him and all seems great at the moment.”

Imperial Aura looked every inch a top-class chaser in the making after winning his first two starts of last season, but unseated his rider at Kempton in January and was pulled up at Cheltenham in March.

Imperial Aura returns with something to prove
Imperial Aura returns with something to prove (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Trainer Kim Bailey is hoping a subsequent wind operation will help him bounce back, while he is keen to see how he fares beyond three miles.

He said: “He has always been a horse that I felt would be better over a longer trip, though he is quite a quick horse. Going back up to three miles shouldn’t be a problem.

“It is a flat track at Haydock and I think the race will suit him.

“He has had a breathing operation over the summer and he seems in a really good place. I think you just have to walk away from the second half of last season.

“Is he good enough? God only knows, but at the end of it he is a very talented individual and he has got serious ability.”

Tom George expects Clondaw Castle to improve from his third-placed finish in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby, saying: “The ground at Wetherby ended up being too soft. That track on that ground first time out just found him out as it stretched his stamina.

“The positive is that Haydock is a much sharper track and the ground looks like being better. Provided it doesn’t rain, you should see a different horse.

“I’m not a betting man, but I think he can put it up against quite a few of them if the ground stays as it is.”

The rank outsider is Chatham Street Lad, who needs to raise his game significantly judged on an uninspiring start to his season in the Munster National at Limerick.

Chatham Street Lad at Cheltenham
Chatham Street Lad at Cheltenham (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“He looks great in himself and by the sound of things the ground will be safe, which is the main thing,” said trainer Mick Winters.

“We hope he blew up and then ran on in the race in Limerick and he came out of it well.

“I suppose you’d be a small bit worried you might be out of your depth in a race like this. It’s a big ask, but if he can hunt around and pick up the pieces and comes home safely that’ll be great.”

Bristol De Mai seeking to emulate Kauto Star as four-time Betfair winner

Nigel Twiston-Davies has Bristol De Mai perfectly tuned ahead of his bid for a fourth Betfair Chase at Haydock on Saturday.

The grey has been a dominant force in the race for the past four seasons, scoring back to back wins in 2017 and 2018 before retaining his title last year following a second-placed finish behind Lostintranslation in 2020.

Haydock is usually Twiston-Davies’ first port of call with the hugely-popular gelding, who has kicked off his campaign in the race for the past three years and will do so again having not been seen since his Grand National run in Aintree.

The trainer reports the horse to have summered well and to be at the peak of fitness ahead of his title defence at the weekend.

Bristol De Mai taking the Betfair Chase in 2020
Bristol De Mai taking the Betfair Chase in 2020 (Mike Egerton/PA)

“He was here in the summer and he’s been very happy,” he said.

“He’s in great form, I couldn’t be happier really.

“He’s easy to get fit, that’s the beauty of him and we’re all primed and ready to go. The one year we were second was the year we really struggled, he had lameness problems and he didn’t get there quite 100 per cent.”

There have been no such setbacks this time around and Twiston-Davies is hoping the 10-year-old’s fitness will prove valuable when he takes on what looks to be a particularly competitive line-up that includes Henry de Bromhead’s Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up A Plus Tard.

“It looks as hot as ever, but the one thing he always has in his favour is that he’s an easy horse to get fit. Will they all be as fit as he is?” he said.

“It’s great for the race and great for all of us, let’s hope we can beat them.”

Bristol De Mai with long-term partner Daryl Jacob
Bristol De Mai with long-term partner Daryl Jacob (Clint Hughes/PA)

Bristol De Mai has a notably solid record at Haydock, with his 2019 defeat in the Betfair Chase his only loss at the track in six runs.

“He likes to be able to boss races and it’s a very uncomplicated track, there are two long straights and easy bends – he can just get out there and do his stuff,” Twiston-Davies explained.

“There’s no races for him at Newbury or places like that but I’m sure he’d be just as good there, he was good around Wetherby. A flat track where he can really boss them seems to suit him.”

Similarly well-suited to him is his jockey Daryl Jacob, who has ridden him in all but two of his 36 career starts, only handing the reins to Twiston-Davies’ son, Sam, on one occasion and to French rider Arnaud Duchene when Bristol De Mai won at Auteuil as a three-year-old.

“One of the only other people to have ridden him is Sam, Daryl knows him like the back of his hand and they love each other,” the trainer said of the partnership.

Daryl Jacob and Bristol De Mai after one of their Betfair Chase victories
Daryl Jacob and Bristol De Mai after one of their Betfair Chase victories (Clint Hughes/PA)

For all those connected to the horse the race is the source of many happy memories, with a record-equalling fourth success in the contest set to leave Bristol De Mai tied with the great Kauto Star, winner of the Betfair Chase in 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2011.

“It would just be great, he’ll be remembered forever and maybe there’d be a race named after him,” Twiston-Davies said of the prospect.

“He’s really, really special. We were lucky enough to have him and The New One both going at the same time.

“They were real standard-bearers for the yard and he has been exceptional, he hasn’t quite won the Gold Cup I always wanted but he was third in one.”

The trainer also recalled when he was first shown a glimpse of Bristol De Mai’s potential as a three-year-old in the Grade One Future Champions Finale Juvenile Hurdle at Chepstow.

“These are special memories, probably my most special memory was his very first run for us at Chepstow, he got deep ground in the three-year-old hurdle and then we really knew we had a very, very exceptional horse and he hasn’t let us down since,” he said.

“He’s a very easy horse to train, he’s keen in how he goes about his work, he loves his work. He lives in the field every day as well and he loves that.

“He is as he looks, he’s a big show off – a happy horse.”

As well as A Plus Tard, opposition to Bristol De Mai could include Imperial Aura (Kim Bailey), Waiting Patiently (Christian Williams), Royale Pagaille (Venetia Williams), Next Destination (Paul Nicholls), Clondaw Castle (Tom George), Native River (Colin Tizzard) and Chatham Street Lad (Mick Winters).

Supreme effort gives Twiston-Davies plenty to shout about

I Like To Move It maintained his unbeaten record over obstacles as he made every yard to win the Sky Bet Supreme Trial Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham.

Only three runners went to post in the Grade Two affair so it always promised to be a tactical heat, with Sam Twiston-Davies eager to assume control from the off on I Like To Move It, who is trained by his father, Nigel.

The 4-6 favourite bowled along nicely in front and while he gave a couple of hurdles plenty of clearance, it was nevertheless a sound round of jumping and his two rivals looked to be feeling the pace turning for home.

I Like To Move it strides on for victory
I Like To Move it strides on for victory (Tim Goode/PA)

Pikar and Washington were both trying their best to reel him in approaching the last, but I Like To Move It was spring-heeled and galloped away to the line.

Pikar came down at the final obstacle, leaving Washington to take second, beaten two lengths.

Betfair rate I Like To Movie It at 20-1 for the Supreme itself at the Festival in March.

The Twiston-Davies team were on the mark with Gowel Road at the track on Saturday and the winning rider punched the air as I Like To Move It crossed the line.

He said: “It wasn’t ideal making our own running and he was having a good look around in front, but he was good and honest to the line.

“I promised Paddy Brennan I’d give it a big one crossing the line, he told me off for not celebrating enough yesterday!

“Andrew Nicholson (eventer) taught him to jump and he did jump slightly big, but he’ll be a chaser – it’s amazing to think he’s only four now. It’s exciting.

“Everyone knows we’re a lot smaller team these days, we’ve lost a lot of big horses so to have two winners at this meeting is excellent.”

The winning trainer admitted he was unsure of the value of the form, but was nevertheless impressed with his charge.

He said: “I don’t know if he’s achieved more today, the horses he beat weren’t as good but he had a penalty.

“His jumping was superb and he’s exciting so it’s been a good weekend, we’ve had five winners overall.

“Let’s hope he’s as good as we think he is, he only ever works when he’s off the bridle but he wasn’t much today.

“It depends what the handicapper does to him, but we’d consider something like the Betfair. Whatever we do next we’ll be back here in March.”

Twiston-Davies impressed as I Like To Move It sees off Cheltenham rivals

Nigel Twiston-Davies believes he could have a new The New One on his hands after I Like To Move It downed a couple of highly-rated rivals in the Masterson Holdings Hurdle at Cheltenham.

Normally used as a stepping-stone to bigger targets for second-season hurdlers, I Like To Move It was an unusual runner in the race having just his second outing over timber.

Twiston-Davies has never been shy of ripping up the text book, though, and the four-year-old, who had shown decent form in bumpers last season – finishing ninth in the Cheltenham event in March – had only had one outing in a Worcester novices’ event earlier this month.

Up against Tritonic, who was sent off at just 4-1 for the Triumph Hurdle at the Festival, and Dan Skelton’s Stepney Causeway, a winner four times last term, I Live To Move It was sent off at 100-30.

He travelled strongly in the hands of Sam Twiston-Davies for much of the contest, and while losing ground at a couple of his hurdles was still in touch as Stepney Causeway led into the straight.

As the Skelton runner faded up the hill, I Like To Move It had to be kept up to his work as Tritonic began to stay on having been outpaced, but three and a quarter lengths separated them at the line.

“I’m delighted. I said to the owners we may as well run here, finish fourth and even though we think he’s pretty good, he’ll probably be outclassed and it would be better than carrying a penalty,” said the winning trainer.

“We always hoped he’d be good enough and he clearly was. I’m not surprised he’s getting quoted for the Supreme because we’ve always felt he was the next The New One, but when you come and take on these serious horses we didn’t think today would necessarily be the day.

“He had very good bumper form but I just thought he’d lack the experience today. He was a bit slow over his hurdles first time.

“You can’t expect to beat a horse who was almost favourite for the Triumph and one who had won four.

“His work right from the start was reminiscent of The New One, we didn’t have to teach him to gallop, he was just a natural. This time last year he’d only just been broken in.

“I’d imagine we’ll come back here in November for the Grade Two novice.”

Sam Twiston-Davies said: “The plan was to get more experience into him, make sure it was smooth and that he jumped well.

“If we’d pick up nice prize money we’d be happy, but to pick up and win as he has just shows the engine he’s got as he was taking on hardy horses there and even with jumping a few a little bit inadequately, he’s still won nicely.

“He’s scary good because he’s doing a lot wrong and still winning.”

It was something of an up and down day for the jockey, however.

He hit the front too soon, according to himself, on The Hollow Ginge and was caught on the line by Definite Plan in the 888Sport What’s Your Thinking Handicap Chase.

Twiston-Davies brought his double up on Before Midnight (2-1 favourite) in the 888Sport Handicap Chase and then looked like making it a treble on Undersupervision in the Mick Turner A Lifetime In Racing Novices’ Chase.

Undersupervision (far side) leads over the last before running into the rail
Undersupervision (far side) leads over the last before running into the rail (David Davies/PA)

He looked to just about have the measure of Kim Bailey’s odds-on favourite Does He Know but then veered left into the false rail, luckily escaping unharmed but losing all chance.

“I began the day swearing about horses and that’s how I’m going to finish it!” said Twiston-Davies.

“He’s only young and you’d think if he was going to do anything like that he’d head for the chute, but it looked like he fancied another circuit – I suppose that’s the positive to take out of it.”

Of the winner, Bailey said: “David (Bass) hadn’t really gone for him and I think we were just about in front.

“The hardest thing with this horse is actually getting him on the racecourse. He’s fine at home and in the pre-parade, it’s when he gets in the paddock. He nearly killed me at Newbury so I won’t go near him now.

“I think we’ll come back here in November.”

Twiston-Davies anticipating bold Aintree show from Bristol De Mai

Casting his gaze over the noble head of Bristol De Mai at Grange Farm Stables, Nigel Twiston-Davies exuded cautious optimism over the grey’s Randox Grand National prospects in what will be the first edition of the race staged behind closed doors.

The Covid-19 pandemic might have put paid to what would have been the top weight’s first attempt at the National 12 months ago, but Twiston-Davies thanks his lucky stars that owing to a huge combined effort within the racing industry, the sport has continued without issue through the winter lockdown.

A smattering of owners that are now allowed to attend Aintree will add a small voice to the occasion, but as far as the participants are concerned – be they trainer, horse or jockey – everything will pan out like any other day’s racing, with a tension you could cut with a knife as the runners assemble in front of the stands.

Twiston-Davies identified the class element that Bristol De Mai will bring to the National table very soon after he arrived at Guiting Power from France as an exciting juvenile hurdler.

He recalls: “He was sent to us by the owners as a three-year-old and we thought he was decent when he won the Finale Juvenile Hurdle at Chepstow. He went on to finish third at Aintree and went straight over fences as a four-year-old.

“I was going to run him in last year’s National and while that never happened, he’s been trained specifically for the race this time. We decided to give the Gold Cup a miss, and take him fresh to Aintree.

“He’s a very good jumper and Daryl (Jacob) was delighted with the way he schooled over a couple of dressed up fences here on Thursday. He had two goes and greatly enjoyed himself.”

Bristol De Mai and Nigel Twiston-Davies
Bristol De Mai and Nigel Twiston-Davies (Neil Morrice/PA)

It is interesting that each of the people most closely connected with the gelding on the training side of the equation are united in their view that he was in fact ‘made’ for the rigours the old course, with the Becher’s Brook drop, the towering presence of The Chair and generally far stiffer obstacles.

The design of the obstacles has been adjusted over the years, with every fence redressed with a plastic easy-fix inner torso that still catches out a number of horses, but for the overall good of the sport makes the fences safer.

Such a scenario did not greet Earth Summit and Bindaree for their Aintree triumphs of 1998 and 2002.

Bindaree on his way to National glory for Nigel Twiston-Davies
Bindaree on his way to National glory for Nigel Twiston-Davies (Rui Vieira/PA)

Twiston-Davies said: “The course has changed a lot over the years, which is a shame in a sense, as I feel the old National fences would have played to Bristol’s strengths. Since they redid the insides of the fences, it’s made the jumping side of the equation easier.

“He pleased me in each of his races this season. To win a third Betfair Chase like that was very special, and I thought he did nothing wrong at Sandown (when chasing home Native River) in the Cotswold Chase.

“I feel very lucky to have won two Nationals. Earth Summit surprised me a little, as I thought he might not be brave enough for it, but it was quite the reverse as it was his ground and it didn’t worry him one little bit.

Earth Summit won the National in 1998
Earth Summit won the National in 1998 (PA)

“When Bindaree won I was contemplating my future as a trainer, and I suppose he helped me U-turn my decision. He was a horse with a lot of class, he took to it and in truth didn’t surprise me.

“We could have had a third success with Beau, who also had a touch of class and had won a Whitbread. He was travelling beautifully, but nodded on landing at the first on the second circuit and it caused the rein to go over his head.

“Carl (Llewellyn) tried to keep the steering intact for three or four more fences, but in the end gravity took over. Carl fell off and then tried to catch him, as he could have remounted. There was still plenty of time for him to win the race.”

Praising the combined efforts of everyone that has assisted in running racing, the trainer added: “I think it’s great for the sport that racing has continued unabated through the third lockdown, with not a single upset, which is the main thing.

“We don’t need anyone rocking the boat and it’s superb the way they have kept the show on the road.

“It won’t be the same without the crowds, but it’s the National – there only is one and it would have been a disaster to miss two.”

Carl Llewellyn was a National winner on Party Politics in 1992
Carl Llewellyn was a National winner on Party Politics in 1992 (John Giles/PA)

Llewellyn is business partner to Twiston- Davies at Grange Farm and partnered Party Politics as well as Earth Summit to Aintree glory.

He said: “Over the relatively new easy-fix with spruce fences, horses don’t have to be as good jumpers as they were to get round.

“I think Bristol De Mai will be fine. He finished third in a Gold Cup so is classy, and as an individual he’s very athletic, tall and has great footwork. He has a hell of a lot of scope, respects his fences and has the ability to both stand off and shorten up.”

Bristol De Mai relaxing at home
Bristol De Mai relaxing at home (Neil Morrice/PA)

The trainer’s ‘right hand man’ Jim Old is a permanent feature on the gallops, and since retiring from the training ranks has managed the interests of a handful of inmates at the yard.

Old is in agreement with Twiston-Davies that in one sense Bristol De Mai is a horse out of time.

He explains: “I only ever had one runner in the National, and apart from that had one beaten a short head in the Topham, so you could say Aintree wasn’t really my bag. But if you could pick a horse that would have all the attributes required for that course, then it’s Bristol De Mai.

“Without any doubt he would have been a wonderful horse for the old National course. But that’s in the past and he will still love it round there.

“If it stayed dry, it wouldn’t be too much of a worry because he’s won on it at Haydock.”

Checkitout books Ayr ticket with cosy Ludlow strike

Checkitout set himself up for a tilt at a valuable prize at Ayr when completing a double for Nigel and Sam Twiston-Davies in the Bromfield Sand And Gravel Handicap Chase at Ludlow.

The rapidly improving seven-year-old coped with a course that was plenty sharp enough in his pilot’s view, pulling seven and a half lengths and one length clear of King Of Realms and El Presente.

It was an impressive performance from the 6-4 favourite, but the race was marred by a fatal injury to Capeland, a multiple winner over fences who broke a hind cannonbone in the early stages.

Checkitout (far side) takes the water jump
Checkitout (far side) takes the water jump (PA)

Sam Twiston-Davies said: “He was unlucky here earlier in the season when he pitched after overjumping and fell. You can see by his size that he’s not an ideal Ludlow horse, and Nige has had a valuable novices’ handicap chase at the Scottish National meeting as a long-term plan for him.

“If he’s in as good form as he was today, he’d go there with a good winning chance.”

The jockey initiated his double aboard 11-2 shot Fontana Ellissi, who upset the odds-on favourite Hurling Magic in the Watch On RacingTV Novices’ Hurdle.

He added: “He’s a very straightforward horse who will jump fences in the future. The ground really suited him.”

Apache Creek in action for the O'Neill team
Apache Creek in action for the O’Neill team (David Davies/PA)

Apache Creek continues to reward the patience of his connections, and the six-year-old readily picked off his foes to complete a hat-trick in the Lets Beat This Together Handicap Hurdle.

Jonjo O’Neill Jr bided his time on Apache Creek and after taking control approaching the final flight, stayed on strongly to score by two and a half lengths from Wicked Willy.

The success takes O’Neill to 59 winners for the campaign, just two adrift of his total for the 2019-20 season.

O’Neill said: “Apache Creek has been a bit of a slow burner. He wasn’t easy to train at first, but the patience of the owners has now been rewarded.

“He does knock a few out, but he’s a relatively young horse who likes a strong gallop to aim at.”

Rock On Rocco and Tom Scudamore were on the mark
Rock On Rocco and Tom Scudamore were on the mark (David Davies/PA)

Tom George’s horses are running into form on the better ground, and another to put his best hooves forward for the Slad trainer was Rock On Rocco (4-1) in the Join racingtv.com Novices’ Handicap Chase.

Tom Scudamore donned the Roger Brookhouse colours, in which he landed the Arkle on Western Warhorse back in 2014, to steer Rock On Rocco to a two-and-a-quarter-length success over Somekindofstar.

Scudamore said: “Since winning at Kempton, it’s taken a while for him to get his confidence back, but he certainly appreciated the better ground today and warmed to his task as the race developed.

“He was very exact and really good up the home straight. He’s jumped well and travelled very nicely.

“I’ve ridden a lot for Mr Brookhouse over the years and he’s always been a great supporter.”

Tom Scudamore will team up with Adagio at Aintree
Tom Scudamore will team up with Adagio at Aintree (David Davies/PA)

Scudamore has Triumph Hurdle second Adagio as one of his best rides to look forward to at Aintree and added: “David (Pipe) sees Aintree as the logical route.

“He had a little setback, but has improved each time I’ve sat on him. It’s of great credit to everyone at Pond House that he ran so well in the Triumph and might now go to Aintree.”

Take It Easy wore down Magic Dancer before holding the challenge of Hydroplane by a length and a half in the Visit racing tv.com Handicap Hurdle.

The 11-8 favourite, trained by Pam Sly, enabled Kielan Woods to equal his best previous tally of 30 winners.

Take It Easy returns to the winner's enclosure
Take It Easy returns to the winner’s enclosure (PA)

The jockey enthused: “He’s a lovely little horse who is still learning about the game.

“It was a messy old race in which I rode him too handy and got there too soon, but he was all right on that ground. He has loads of boot, and was as clever as a cat with his jumping.”

Woods has ridden for Sly since his conditional days and added: “Pam’s been brilliant to me since I was a 7lb claimer. It’s been a great season with 60 more rides than ever before.”

Garde Ville won the final race of the day
Garde Ville won the final race of the day (David Davies/PA)

Getaway Luv (2-5 favourite), trained by Olly Murphy, did not have things all his own way in the Bet At racingtv.com Novices’ Hurdle and had to be punched right out by Aidan Coleman to resist Just The Man by three-quarters of a length.

The closing Ludlow Race Club Open Hunters’ Chase went to Garde Ville (100-30).

Beauport bags Grade Three honours in Sandown contest

Beauport, running in the famous Corbiere colours, ploughed through the Sandown mud to win the European Breeders’ Fund Paddy Power ‘National Hunt’ Novices’ Handicap Hurdle Final.

Trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies, the five-year-old was sent off a 28-1 chance and appeared to have a bit to find on the form book.

Out the back in the initial stages, Jordan Nailor made a bold move to take up the running early in the straight and it was an advantage he was not to relinquish.

Fancied runners such as Patroclus and Karl Philippe travelled well until the final three furlongs, when it appeared to become very hard work and their efforts soon petered out.

It was left to Dan Skelton’s Riggs to chase home the winner and while he looked a threat at the last, he ended up getting very tired and Beauport won by 11 lengths. Gladiateur Allen was third and Sam Barton was fourth.

Nailor said: “This is my first winner at Sandown and my first Graded or Listed winner as well.

“I rode him in a bumper at Fontwell where he finished fourth and ran really well, then I rode him over hurdles at Southwell and he was third and again he ran well.

“Then I was on him again at Fontwell when he won and did it really nicely over two miles and six furlongs. Then he ran over two miles and three furlongs at Fontwell when he was third and was staying on – he just got done (for toe) a bit.

“But back over two-four today and that climb in that ground, it really helped him.

“It’s great to get a winner like that. I’m 22 now and it is my best season so far, and that was my 24th winner.

“It means everything, but Carl Llewellyn has a lot to do with this horse and it is down to him and the owners and everyone for keeping me on him on such a big day.”