Nigel Twiston-Davies could not be happier with his main challenger for honours at The Festival, The New One.
Running in the Stan James Champion Hurdle for the second consecutive year, following an unlucky third in 2014, The New One bids to give Twiston-Davies, who trains within 10 miles of Cheltenham Racecourse near Guiting Power, a first success in the hurdling championship.
He has gone close in the past – Khyber Kim finished second to Binocular in 2010 and The New One was hampered at a crucial stage last year when a fast-finishing third.
The trainer, who has sent out a Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup winner in Imperial Commander and two Grand National victors, is confident The New One will go close.
He said today at a media stable visit organised by Cheltenham Racecourse: “The New One is 100 per cent. It is a bit nerve-wracking – we have got one week and five days before the race, I would like it to be tomorrow.
“The whole thing is easier than last year because he is not meant to win – the pressure is totally off. Two years ago, when he won the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle, he could not possibly win as two Irish horses were definitely going to win and The New One might as well not turn up. But he did and he won and that was quite pleasant.
“You could say the same thing with Denman and Kauto Star – Imperial Commander shouldn’t have turned up for the Gold Cup, but he did and won too. It is much nicer that way.
“My worst year was when Imperial Commander was favourite and then everything went wrong – that felt hard.
“The New One has done brilliantly this season. He and Faugheen haven’t been racing against championship horses, they have been beating also-rans very well – the one who sticks out is Hurricane Fly who has beaten good ones.
“It was terrible ground at Haydock last time and The New One was following a horse who was jumping to the right. When Sam (son) asked the New One to quicken, it took a little time but away he went as usual, despite hating every minute of it.
“Grade Ones are almost easier to win than Grade Twos in which you are giving 8lb to the other horses. He won well at Cheltenham in December (in the Grade Two StanJames.com International) and in all his races this season, apart from at Haydock, he has been on the bridle at the last hurdle and quickened away nicely – what more could you want?
“A horse does not become a bad jumper when he has jumped well all his life – he has only made three significant mistakes in his career – one at Kempton when he was beaten by My Tent Or Yours and that was a split or bust occasion at the last.
“You could argue The New One was 6lb below his best at Haydock on ground he positively hated – it wasn’t that bad.
“We won’t be allowing Faugheen out of our sights. The New One quickens off any pace but there is no way we want the other horse to go off 10 lengths in front. Faugheen has done brilliantly but we can do as good. I think they should be joint favourites
“Faugheen is always going to be impressive because he takes up the running far earlier that we do. The New One lost eight to 10 lengths in the race last year and was stopped and had to start again. It is really hard work to do that. He was brought to a standstill and had to pick himself up and carry on.”
About Nigel Twiston-Davies
Nigel Twiston-Davies initially combined training as a permit-holder with his farming interests throughout the 1980s, having his first winner with Last Of The Foxes at Hereford in March, 1982, before the agricultural recession prompted him to make training his full-time profession.
He took out a full training licence in 1989, recording his first win as a public trainer in December of that year with Babil at Newbury. He has since gone on to register more than 1,600 successes.
Born on May 16, 1957, Twiston-Davies rode 17 winners as an amateur under Rules and gained a further 17 point-to-point victories, and served as assistant trainer to Richard Head and Fred Rimell.
A childhood neighbour and friend of Peter Scudamore, he went into partnership with the former champion Jump jockey to set up stables at Grange Hill Farm, Guiting Power, Gloucestershire, although Scudamore is no longer involved in the venture and currently assists Lucinda Russell. Since 2009, his business partner and assistant trainer is former stable jockey Carl Llewellyn.
Twiston-Davies adopted and developed the pioneering techniques of Martin Pipe, such as interval training and regular blood tests for his string, enabling him to rapidly raise his profile among the training ranks.
He is the only current trainer to have won the Grand National at Aintree more than once, saddling Earth Summit to victory in 1998 and Bindaree four years later.
The 2001/2002 campaign had been relatively quiet by Twiston-Davies’ high standards before Bindaree provided him with his second Grand National success. Afterwards he revealed that he had been intending to give up training, but despite “having a bigger debt than Argentina” after buying out Scudamore, the Aintree victory made him have a change of heart.
His best season numerically was in 2010/11, when he saddled 97 winners. Sons Sam and William are now both jockeys. Sam, 22, is stable jockey to champion Jump trainer Paul Nicholls and still rides regularly for his father, while 20-year-old William, who also started out over obstacles, rides on the Flat.
Imperial Commander gave him a first Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup success in 2010, while The New One is the current stable star and is due to run in the Stan James Champion Hurdle after an unlucky third in the race last year.
Nigel Twiston-Davies’ 15 winners at The Festival
|1992||Tipping Tim||Ultima Business Solutions Handicap Chase|
|1993||Gaelstrom||Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle|
|1993||Young Hustler||RSA Chase|
|1994||Arctic Kinsman||Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle|
|1998||Upgrade||JCB Triumph Hurdle|
|2000||Rubhahunish||Pertemps Network Final|
|2004||Fundamentalist||Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle|
|2008||Ballyfitz||Pertemps Network Final|
|2009||Tricky Trickster||Toby Balding National Hunt Chase|
|2009||Imperial Commander||Ryanair Chase|
|2010||Imperial Commander||Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup|
|2010||Baby Run||St James’s Place Foxhunter Chase|
|2010||Pigeon Island||Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase|
|2013||The New One||Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle|
|2013||Same Difference||Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Handicap Chase|
Nigel Twiston-Davies’ entries at The Festival this year
|Ballybolley||CORAL, O’BRIEN, PIPE||129||Unbeaten in three bumpers last season culminating with a head victory over Relic Rock in the G2 at Aintree’s Crabbie’s Grand National Festival; runner-up in maiden hurdles at Perth (2m+) and Cheltenham (2m+) before winning by 2¾l at Aintree (2m 1f) on Dec 6; third in nov event at Wetherby over Christmas; came 15th in G3 Betfair Hurdle (hcp) at Newbury on Feb 7|
|Goodbye Dancer||WINTER, TRIUMPH||136||11-furlong winner on the Flat in France; rattled off a hat-trick of wins in juv hurdles between June and August; last seen out when beaten 13l into fourth by Unanimite in a juv hurdle at Market Rasen on September 27|
|Blaklion||ALBERT||145||Dual bumper winner who won first two starts over hurdles, including the G2 Persian War Nov Hurdle (2m 4f) at Chepstow on Oct 25; 4½l runner-up to Parlour Games in G2 nov hurdle (2m 4f+) at The Open; relished step up to 3m when taking G2 Albert Bartlett Nov Hurdle by 11l at Cheltenham on Dec 13; third (beaten 1½l) in G1 Challow Nov Hurdle (2m 5f) at Newbury on Dec 29; beaten a head by Carraci Apachi in 3m+ G2 at Doncaster on Jan 24. Owned by Sarah Such and Gino Paletta|
|Foxbridge||ULTIMA, FWKM||127||PtP winner who won once over hurdles (2m 5f) for Nicky Henderson; returned from just over two years off the track when fifth for Twiston-Davies in nov hcap chase at Leicester in Dec; has since strung together three consecutive wins in hcap chases at Ffos Las, most recently taking 3m 1f+ contest by ½l on Feb 15; other wins came over 2m 5f and 2m 3f+|
|Cogry||BALDING||136||Won twice over hurdles and was eighth in the G1 Albert Bartlett Nov Hurdle at The Festival last season; fell on chase debut at Uttoxeter (Dec 9) but back on track when annexing nov hcap chase (3m) at Chepstow over Christmas; second (beaten 3½l) in G2 nov chase (2m 5f) at Haydock Park on Jan 17; held on gamely to win 3m 2f nov chase by a neck at Warwick on Feb 7|
|Little Jon||BALDING, BROWN||138||Sixth in the G3 Imperial Cup (hcp) at Sandown Park last year; held Solar Impulse by a ½l in 2m+ nov chase at Newton Abbot in Oct; third (beaten 3l) to Dunraven Storm in G2 Racing Post Arkle Trophy Trial Nov Chase (2m) at Cheltenham on Nov 16; failed to complete in two subsequent starts at Cheltenham (ran out, fell); fourth (beaten 8l) to Annacotty in G3 freebets.com Handicap Trophy (2m 5f) at Cheltenham on Jan 24|
|Splash Of Ginge||JLT||153||Won G3 Betfair Hurdle (hcp) at Newbury before finishing 15th in the Sky Bet Supreme Nov Hurdle at The Festival in 2014; runner-up in G1 nov hurdle (2m 4f) at Aintree in April; won nov chase (2m 4f) at Cheltenham by 9l in October; fell when travelling well in G3 Caspian Caviar Gold Cup (hcap) at The International on Dec 13; justified favouritism when beating Hunt Ball by 3½l in G3 hcap chase (2m 5f) at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day; PU in G1 Scilly Isles Nov Chase at Sandown Park on Jan 31. Owned by Liverpool-born businessman John Neild|
|The New One||CHAMP||167||Won G1 Neptune Investment Management Nov Hurdle at The Festival in 2013 and was badly hampered when strong-finishing third in last season’s G1 Stan James Champion Hurdle; won all five starts since, including inaugural Betfair Price Rush Hurdle (2m) at Haydock Park on Nov 22; recorded second win in G2 StanJames.com International Hurdle (2m 1f) at Cheltenham on Dec 13, beating Vaniteux by 4.5l; jumped disappointingly when successful in G2 StanJames.com Champion Hurdle Trial at Haydock Park on Jan 17. The New One has won on 14 of his 19 starts & is the main British hope in this year’s Stan James Champion Hurdle. Owned by Sarah Such and Gino Paletta|
|Sybarite||PNF||135||10th in the G1 Albert Barlett Nov Hurdle at The Festival in 2011; completed three-timer when beating Henryville by 2¾l in a 3m hcap hurdle at Cheltenham in Oct; sixth in G3 Fixed Brush Hurdle (3m) at Haydock Park on Nov 22; ran on strongly to take fourth in hcap hurdles at Cheltenham in Dec and on New Year’s Day|
|Double Ross||RYAN||152||Third in Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Hcap Hurdle at The Festival in 2013 and filled same position (beaten 2l) in G1 JLT Novices’ Chase last year; third (beaten 4l) in G2 Charlie Hall Chase (2m 7f) at Wetherby in November; UR in Betfair Chase and refused in King George VI Chase at Kempton Park over Christmas; last of six behind Coneygree in G2 Betfair Denman Chase (3m) at Newbury on Feb 7|
|Astracad||BROWN, JHGA||135||7th in Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Hcap chase in 2012 and PU in same race last year; runner-up (beaten 9l) to Buywise in G2 Silver Trophy Hcap Chase (2m 5f) at The April Meeting; three runs hcap chases at Cheltenham this season, most recently when second to Sew On Target (beaten 5l) in a 2m+ hcap on December 13|
|Benbens||FWKM||136||Runner-up (beaten 3½l) in 3m 1f amateur riders’ hcap chase at Cheltenham in Nov; UR in Becher Chase at Aintree before coming fifth (beaten 23l) in Welsh National at Chepstow over Christmas; finished strongly when beaten ½l in G2 Peter Marsh Hcap Chase (3m 1f) at Haydock Park on Jan 17; seventh (beaten 32l) at same course in G3 Grand National Trial (3m 5f) on Feb 14|
Nigel Twiston-Davies’ entries with previous form at The Festival
|2011||Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ H’cap H||14th||Sam Twiston-Davies||14/1|
|2012||Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase||7th||Sam Twiston-Davies||11/2|
|2014||Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase||PU||Sam Twiston-Davies||22/1|
|2014||Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle||8th||Sam Twiston-Davies||66/1|
|2012||Neptune Investment Management Nov’ H||8th||Sam Twiston-Davies||33/1|
|2013||Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ H’cap H||3rd||Adam Wedge||14/1|
|2014||JLT Novices’ Chase||3rd||Sam Twiston-Davies||11/1|
|Splash Of Ginge|
|2014||Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle||15th||Sam Twiston-Davies||20/1|
|2011||Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle||10th||Sam Twiston-Davies||25/1|
|The New One|
|2012||Weatherbys Champion Bumper||6th||Sam Twiston-Davies||12/1|
|2013||Neptune Investment Management Nov’ H||1st||Sam Twiston-Davies||7/2|
|2014||Stan James Champion Hurdle||3rd||Sam Twiston-Davies||10/3|