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. ”
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. ”
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.”