Gowel Road forwards Festival claims at Newbury

Gowel Road overcame greenness to earn himself a possible visit to Cheltenham with an all-the-way triumph for Nigel Twiston-Davies and son Sam in the Read Paul Nicholls On Betting Betfair Novices’ Hurdle at Newbury.

The 7-2 shot was a bit wayward at his hurdles on occasion, but after being joined by Good Ball halfway up the home straight, he soon saw off that rival on the run in to score by five and a half lengths.

In the colours of smart hurdler and chaser Double Ross, the winner might well take up his entry in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.

Sam Twiston-Davies said: “He was a bit of a rebel when he came straight to Grange Farm from the sales. Zac Baker spent a lot of time working on him and Tom Bellamy got bucked off on the odd occasion.

“He’s still incredibly green and at Ffos Las he was inclined to go left. I thought a lot would want to take the lead today, but he was sensible in front. He looked at a couple of the wings, but he’s learning and was brave at the finish, knuckling down well.

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“We’ve had an up-and-down year and after three we liked pulled up yesterday, he comes here and rocks up. There’s no rhyme or reason to it.

“It would be nice to think he can go up in trip as he has a nice way of running, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he runs in the Supreme. Remember he is trained by Nigel!”

Aintree is the aim for Polish after a fine staying performance in the Betfair Weighed-In Podcast Weekly Handicap Hurdle.

Under Paddy Brennan, the 14-1 chance gradually picked off his rivals to score by two lengths and one and three-quarters from Howling Milan and Southfield Harvest.

Brennan said: “At no point was I comfortable or happy. It was hard to be confident as there were several going better than me turning in.

“I thought the winning post at Newbury was as far away as the pubs opening, but he dug deep.

“When I sent my review to Fergal (O’Brien, trainer), I told him the horse had had a hard race and he won’t need another before Aintree.”

Paul Nicholls completed a double when Enrilo got the best of a good battle with Hold The Note and Ballymoy in the “My Oddsboost” On Betfair Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase.

The 2-1 favourite looked to be going much the best two out, but in the end had to be driven out to score by half a length and the same under Harry Cobden, adding to Nicholls’ Denman Chase success with Secret Investor.

The winning jockey said: “He’s a horse that does everything very well on the bridle and if I’d committed two out, we would have got beat.

“He did well to win and Paul’s talking about sending him to Aintree.”

Sam Thomas has a good prospect in Good Risk At All (10-1) who ran out a clear-cut winner of the Read Tony Calvin’s Tips On Betting.Betfair National Hunt Flat Race, beating I Like To Move It by two and a quarter lengths.

Winning rider Tom Scudamore said: “Sam is doing really well and has had a lot of winners. This horse is not a Cheltenham horse for this year, but will be in time.”

Sage Advice proves wise choice at Kempton

Sage Advice made a victorious jumps debut in the Watch Racing Free Online At Ladbrokes Juvenile Hurdle at Kempton.

The Dr Richard Newland-trained four-year-old added to his sole Flat win for former handler Joseph Murphy with a stylish success in the two-mile prize.

Travelling well throughout, the 7-4 favourite only needed shaking up by Sam Twiston-Davies on the run to the last before going on to score by six lengths.

Twiston-Davies said: “He took to it well, jumped well and relaxed well. He picked up the horse of Olly Murphy’s (Tinnahalla) quite nicely and jumped the last well and got the job done, which was the main thing.

“What I was impressed with was how he quickened up on quite holding stuff. We could have a look (at something like the Adonis).

“This is a new owner to the Newland team and he has plenty of juveniles and he compares quite similarly to a lot of the others, so hopefully he can progress.”

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Barbados Buck’s will have his sights raised on his next start after completing a hat-trick for the season in the Play Ladbrokes 1-2 Free On Football Novices’ Hurdle.

Having registered back-to-back wins at Southwell, the Paul Nicholls-trained six-year-old once again demonstrated stamina is his forte in the extended three-mile prize as he successfully shouldering a 10lb penalty to victory.

One of a handful of runners in with a chance turning for home, the 2-1 favourite responded well to pressure between the final two flights before drawing clear to defeat runner-up Fedelta by four lengths.

Nicholls said: “He is a three-mile chaser in time. It was a fair thing to keep galloping with a 10lb penalty like that. He is just a nice horse.

“He was fit and well and handled the soft. These sort of horses wouldn’t want it quick.

“There are plenty of good races for him, but he wouldn’t want to run for a month to six weeks.

“I hadn’t thought about it (Albert Bartlett), but Harry (Cobden, jockey) said we should probably give him an entry.”

Double Shuffle (4-1) demonstrated he still has plenty of life in him at the age of 11 after claiming his first success in more than four years in the Ladbrokes Committed To Safer Gambling Handicap Chase.

The Tom George-trained gelding, who finished second in the 2017 King George VI Chase at the track, got up late on in the three-mile prize to defeat Ami Desbois by a length and a quarter.

James Bowen, rider, said: “He was off a good mark, but he has done it well. The jump at the last has won me the race.

“He is very game and he is such a good jumper – it has helped him out today. He travelled a lot better than the last day he was here. It is a good job by the team to get him here fresh.”

Smarty Wild (5-2 favourite) became trainer Philip Hobbs’ first winner of 2021 when opening his account over fences at the fourth attempt in the Ladbrokes Where The Nation Plays Handicap Chase.

Jockey Richard Johnson said: “He is a big horse, but he is maybe still a bit on the weak side. To be fair to him, he deserved to get his head in front.

“He jumped the last two really well. I didn’t want to be on my own too long as he is a babyish horse. It was almost ideal he had something to race with going down to the last.

“Two and a half on a flat track for the moment is probably ideal.”

Twiston-Davies claims Clan is ‘more complete’ as hat-trick bid looms

Sam Twiston-Davies believes Clan Des Obeaux is the complete package as he goes in search of a third successive victory in the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day.

The famous race is littered with multiple winners down the years – with Kauto Star winning five time, Desert Orchid four, Wayward Lad three and some of National Hunt racing’s other greats claiming two, such as Pendil, Captain Christy, Silver Buck, The Fellow and One Man.

Clan Des Obeaux is therefore looking to enhance his status in an elite club, with trainer Paul Nicholls chasing an incredible 12th win in the Christmas highlight.

According to the bookmakers, his biggest danger is stablemate Cyrname, who was second last year and with stable jockey Harry Cobden once again siding with him, Twiston-Davies keeps the ride on Clan Des Obeaux.

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“Before we won last year, I’d watched Clan very closely in the race from the year before and spoke to Harry. We talked about tactics and what might happen,” said Twiston-Davies.

“Harry was brilliant – he told me everything I needed to know about my lad, but he didn’t actually tell me much about Cyrname.

“Clan was fantastic. He jumped, he travelled, and he winged every fence down the back. Then, when I asked him to pick up, he winged the second-last and off he went. The rest is history.”

Before winning his first King George, Clan Des Obeaux had finished fourth in the Betfair Chase at Haydock to Bristol De Mai – but this year he went even closer in second behind the grey, trained by Sam’s father, Nigel.

“I rode him again on his first start of this season at Haydock when it was very soft ground. He jumped beautifully, travelled great and he felt like he was coming there to win the race,” Twiston-Davies told William Hill.

“Something I’d say is that the heavy ground at Haydock suited Bristol De Mai. That race is his Kempton, so I take a lot of positives out of that race for Clan.

“He has his own kind of way of jumping – you leave him to it, and he is very good. He’s very economical, efficient and, at the same time, he has plenty of scope.

“I guess he’s grown up and, physically, he’s probably a little bit stronger this year – hence he can deal with heavy ground better than he used to. You could say he’s more complete now.

“I went to see him in the week and I’m looking forward to Kempton. From a jockey’s point of view, it’s just about trying your best and enjoying it.

“I just hope he can do something similar to last year. That would be nice. Between now and Boxing Day, it’s just a case of holding on tight, that’s the long and short of it!”

Tommytucker masters Haydock rivals

Master Tommytucker and Sam Twiston-Davies proved a perfect match as they reunited for an impressive victory in the Back And Lay On Betfair Exchange Graduation Chase at Haydock.

Paul Nicholls’ talented but lightly-raced resurgent star has been let down by his jumping several times over fences.

But with Twiston-Davies back on board for the first time since they struck together when Master Tommytucker was making his racecourse debut in a novice hurdle at Exeter in 2018, there was barely a semblance of a mistake on the way to a fine front-running success for the 2-1 favourite.

The Nicholls camp may consider next month’s Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon for the nine-year-old, who won a match race over that course and distance just under two weeks ago.

For Twiston-Davies, though, this success by 15 lengths from another of his old favourites Good Boy Bobby is a case of job done – with thanks to helpful instructions from Master Tommytucker’s regular jockey Harry Cobden.

“He’s got a serious engine – he jumps from fence to fence and does it the hard way on the front,” he said.

“He does relax in front, but he puts other horses under pressure.

“We got into a good rhythm – and Harry Cobden had a really good chat with me (beforehand), and was incredibly helpful.

“He just said he likes to jump by himself, so just leave him to it – because pretty much, when you ask him, he tends to do his own thing.

“So he said, whatever you do, as hard as it can be, just sit and hold his hand all the way round.”

Reflecting on his first association with Master Tommytucker – who earned quotes of 25-1 and 50-1 for the Ryanair Chase and Gold Cup respectively with Betfair – Twiston-Davies added: “That was a long time ago, but it’s nice to get another go on him – and great that it’s gone to plan as well.

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“He rides very smart anyway.”

Charlie Longsdon was earlier delighted with his “dude of a mare” after Snow Leopardess displayed great tenacity to win the Betfair Supports Safer Gambling Week Handicap Chase.

Snow Leopardess, a Listed bumper and Grade Two hurdles winner in her youth, had two years off with injury after an Auteuil success in 2017 and produced a foal by Sir Percy during her sabbatical.

But she showed she has lost none of her appetite for battle on the track, overcoming a serious mistake at the end of the back straight under Brian Hughes to gradually haul in another grey, the front-running Commodore, and hit the front just before the line to win by half-a-length as a well-backed 9-2 joint-favourite.

Longsdon had decided, after two placed runs in useful novice company this season on her only two previous chase starts, that the eight-year-old’s rating of 126 was favourable – and she ensured he was vindicated.

“She has been a really good mare in her time,” said the Oxfordshire trainer.

“She won a Listed bumper at Gowran, and she won a Grade Two at Newbury.

“She got a leg when she won at Auteuil, was off for two years and had a foal and has a yearling on the ground by Sir Percy.

“She’s very, very fragile – and we can’t train her hard at home.”

Nonetheless, Longsdon was always optimistic of a good performance here.

“We knew potentially off 126, it was a nice mark – she was 135 in the past, before she got injured,” he added.

“She loves her jumping, and she stays – and she’s a dude of a mare.

“I think she’ll only improve – and Brian said if she hadn’t made a mistake at the last in the back straight both times, she’d have probably got there easier.

“But I’m delighted with her – a winner on a big day like this is always important for middle-sized yards.”

Longsdon is prepared to aim even higher with her this season too if Snow Leopardess comes out of her victory well.

He said: “We’ll see how she is in the morning – we won’t make any plans (yet), but I know the owner would love to go for the mares’ chase at Cheltenham.

“That is two and a half miles, so we’ll have to make big decisions coming up – otherwise, she’ll have a look at the four-miler (National Hunt Chase).

“The most important thing is keeping her sound now, and we’ll wrap her up in cotton wool.

Llandinabo Lad was a clear-cut winner of the Listed Betfair Weighed In Podcast Newton Novices’ Hurdle for trainer Tom Symonds and jockey Richard Johnson.

The five-year-old remains unbeaten in his two hurdles starts, having finished second in two bumpers last winter and then had a wind operation in July.

He convincingly followed up last month’s Bangor victory, mastering the front-running 7-4 favourite Do Your Job at the last and staying on well to take the opening race in the already rain-softened ground by four and a quarter lengths at 13-2.

Symonds said: “I’m delighted with him, because he was chucked in a bit at the deep end.

“He doesn’t need it soft, but he appears more effective on it.

“The plan was to see where we were today – I’m thinking something like a Tolworth over that stiff two miles at Sandown will suit him, and that’s what we will look at.”

As the rain began to take its toll, the Betfair Racing Only Bettor Handicap Hurdle turned into an eventful and gruelling test – albeit over just two miles three furlongs – and it was Robbie Power who kept out of trouble as Colin Tizzard’s 13-2 shot War Lord stayed on to be an appropriate winner, by a length and a quarter from Umbrigado.

Twiston-Davies back in form with Huntingdon treble

Sam Twiston-Davies emphatically ended a 36-ride losing streak with a Huntingdon treble, completed by Innisfree Lad in the MansionBet Faller Insurance Handicap Hurdle.

Having endured a day to forget at Wetherby 24 hours earlier, during which Ballyoptic pulled up in the feature Charlie Hall Chase, Twiston-Davies enjoyed the perfect confidence-booster at the Cambridgeshire track.

He said: “It’s a fairly crazy game. You go 36 rides without a winner, and you start to think ‘what you are doing – are you doing it wrong?’.

“It shows, though, on a day like today when you are on the best horses to have a plan and stick with it.”

Innisfree Lad had a slice of good fortune when scoring at the course 19 days ago, but the eight-year-old needed no such luck this time round – cruising home 18 lengths clear of Shantou Sunset, for Twiston-Davies and trainer Tom Symonds.

The winning jockey said of the 4-1 favourite: “I think the faster pace and softer ground suited him more than some of the others.

“I just tried to copy what Brian Hughes did last time, by keeping him wide. He jumped nicely.”

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A step up to Grade One company may be next for Orchestral Rain, who gave Twiston-Davies and trainer Dr Richard Newland the second of their two winners together – by 10 lengths as 2-1 favourite in the MansionBet Proud To Support British Racing Juvenile Hurdle.

Newland said: “He had to do a lot of the donkey work but he has done that well.

“I think he has progressed a lot from his last run, and I thought that at home because he is now getting the hang of it. He is probably better going the other way [left-handed].

“We will see what the handicapper does, but we might go for something like the Finale at Chepstow because I think the testing ground will suit him.”

Even-money favourite Chef De Troupe got the ball rolling for Twiston-Davies and Newland, following up his recent Perth success by two lengths in the Download The MansionBet App Claiming Hurdle.

Newland said: “He is a nice horse with lots of ability – but he got a fair hike for winning last time, so we thought this was a good option.

“He will go back into handicaps now, because no one came forward to claim him.”

Espoir De Romay formed the opening leg of an across-the-card double for trainer Kim Bailey – with an impressive two-and-a-half-length success on his debut over fences in the Watch And Bet At MansionBet Novices’ Chase.

Bailey, who was also on target with rising star Imperial Aura at Carlisle, said: “He is a nice horse and at the end of it he will have learnt a bit today. (Jockey) Ciaran (Gethings) was very impressed with him.

“He had a good season last year and he was one I was looking forward to, because he has been good over fences at home. He will be a better horse on softer ground.

“Like all these novices, I think he will need a little bit more experience before raising our sights.”

Perfect Myth (6-4) went one better than on her previous visit to the track when making her first start over an extended two miles three a winning one, by five lengths in the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle.

Bryony Frost, rider of the Neil-King trained winner, said : “The step up in trip has helped her today. I got caught in a bit of traffic last time, but she jumped beautifully today – and once I came round the final bend, she hit top gear.

“The wind op she had has helped make her believe in herself, and she is turning into a really nice mare now.”

Twiston-Davies treasures ‘amazing’ memories of The New One

Sam Twiston-Davies has paid tribute to former Cheltenham Festival winner The New One, who died on Saturday following a bout of colic.

The Grade One-winning rider partnered the King’s Theatre gelding, trained by his dad Nigel, in 35 of his 40 races – winning 18 times.

Stable lad Wayne Jones announced that the 12 year-old had died, having looked after him throughout his racing career and since his retirement in 2018 too.

Twiston-Davies said: “It is incredibly sad, because we had him his whole training career from a three-year-old until he was 10. We were incredibly lucky to have him, and we now just have to remember all the amazing days he has given us.

“Wayne Jones looked after him from day one until the very last day. Wayne now works for (trainer) Dr (Richard) Newland but he still rode him out every day and made sure he was well cared for.

“We will always have good memories and will treasure them. This horse did wonders for me and wonders for our yard. He kept us in the limelight when there wasn’t much else going on.

“It is just incredibly sad that I didn’t get to thank him as much as I would have liked to, or that he didn’t get to enjoy his retirement as much as you would have liked him to. He deserved to be treasured for years. ”

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The New One’s victory in the 2013 Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, along with his three International Hurdles victories at the track, were among his highest-profile wins.

Twiston-Davies added: “Winning the Neptune at the Cheltenham Festival was just incredible. I was relatively young, and I was just getting going.

“I’d lost my claim, and you need those kind of horses to propel you. He kind of split in the middle of two horses, and up the hill he came like the speed of light – which was incredibly exciting.

“It was always a pleasure to ride him around Cheltenham in those International wins. Some of the fights he had around Cheltenham on the Old Course were just phenomenal. ”

Away from Cheltenham, The New One – who earned more than £1million in prize money – enjoyed some of his finest moments at Haydock, where he won the Grade Two Champion Hurdle trial four times from 2015 and 2018.

Twiston-Davies added: “He was a warrior around Haydock. He never did it impressively, and he never won by far in those Champion Hurdle trials, but he would nearly leave you in tears afterwards – because he never gave up.

“You would think he was beaten three or four times in the straight, then somehow he managed to cross the line in front. ”

Sam Twiston-Davies who has paid tribute to former stable star The New One (David Davies/PA Images)
Sam Twiston-Davies has paid tribute to former stable star The New One (David Davies/PA Images)

Although The New One would go on to become a star on the track, during his early days at home he was not one to stand out from the crowd according to Twiston-Davies.

He said: “One thing that stands out in my mind is when he came in a bunch of three-year-olds. You wouldn’t have noticed him, and the only reason he did stand out was because of his superb work

“At the time we had two Flemensfirths, one that ended up being called Imperial Leader, and he was an absolute nightmare, and a Winged Love that was also really naughty.

“The whole time there was this placid King’s Theatre in the background that ended up being The New One, and one of the finest horses we have had in years. ”

For all the glory the pair achieved, one victory Twiston-Davies feels escaped them was the 2014 Champion Hurdle – a race in which they finished third behind Jezki, having been hampered at a crucial point by the fall of Our Conor.

Twiston-Davies added: “Without doubt, his first Champion Hurdle was the one that got away. It is the one time I left a racecourse in bits.

“For him to finish from the back of the last to the line like he did, and having to give up the four or five lengths he had to when the other horse fell in front him, you just thought ‘what might have been’.

“I couldn’t speak afterwards, and dad had to give me a hug, and I just went to the weighing room and sat in silence for a bit.  That is racing, though – and thankfully we have so many amazing days to remember him by.”