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Cheltenham Festival Trainer Profile : Nigel Twiston-Davies

nigel-twiston-daviesTrainer Profile: Nigel Twiston-Davies

Based: Grange Hill Farm, Naunton, Cheltenham

Stable jockey: Sam Twiston-Davies

Best horse ever trained: Imperial Commander

Number of Cheltenham Festival winners: 15

One word to describe him: Underrated

Although perhaps not regarded by many once-a-year punters as a leading trainer on the National Hunt scene, there would be few purists who would begrudge his skills of training racehorses specifically for the Cheltenham Festival.

Held in such high-esteem by his colleagues, Twiston-Davies is one of the nice guys in the training ranks and his operation has a family feel to it with son Sam installed as his retained rider.

How did he fare at the 2013 festival?

It was supposed to be a festival where the Twiston-Davies runners could be ruled out automatically due to a virus in their yard that has a severe effect on the horse’s form before the showpiece event. However, anyone that decided to lay all of Twiston-Davies horses using that rather flawed theory would have been left nursing a loss after the yard racked up two winners over the course of the four days.

The New One’s victory in the Neptune Investment Novices Hurdle last season was memorable for many reasons for the Twiston-Davies family.

Not only did they realise that they have a real top-class horse on their hands but it was a special moment for the family to celebrate Cheltenham success with son Sam in the saddle. It was an electrifying performance that shook up some of the so-called big guns in the race.

Twiston-Davies has warned people before the race that this horse could potentially be the best he’s ever trained and although that statement will be judged just after this year’s Champion Hurdle, it’s hard to argue with him at this stage.

His second winner of the week came courtesy of Same Difference in the Kim Muir Challenge Cup Handicap Chase, where jockey Ryan Hatch drove the seven-year-old to victory in a pulsating clash with Super Duty.

Memorable Cheltenham Festival winner?

Imperial Commander – 2010 Cheltenham Gold Cup

This was the keenly awaited third Gold Cup clash between Kauto Star and Denman, but as so often in racing the big showdown failed to happen as the reigning champion crashed out when under pressure and the new kid on the block stole the headlines for the Twiston-Davies team.

Having only been denied by a nostril by Kauto Star in the Betfair Chase earlier in the season, Imperial Commander had already showed his capabilities at Grade One level, although his performance at Kempton in the King George was very disappointing.

Kept fresh by his wizardry trainer since then, he was at his brilliant best at a course he had already tasted success in the Paddy Power Gold Cup and the Ryanair Chase the previous season.

Always well placed under a fine ride by Paddy Brennan, he jumped soundly all the way and went past Denman two from home before staying on strongly up the hill, pulling away by seven lengths.

In the end it was a memorable day for the yard as Twiston-Davies won the subsequent three races on the Friday card, including the Christie’s Foxhunter Chase and the Jonny Henderson Grand Annual Challenge Handicap Chase.

What races at the festival does he have a fruitful record in?

It’s hard to pinpoint one area of strength. Whether it’s a novice hurdler, chaser or handicap plot, Twiston-Davies has the capabilities to work his magic through a variety of channels.

Best ante-post bet for 2014 festival?

Look no further than the horse that impressed last season.

The New One has huge credentials for the Champion Hurdle. He’s slick at his hurdles, travels like stag and has an electric turn of foot.

Back him at 5/1.



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