Family loyalty pays off for New One

THE New One may only just be galloping into the racing public’s consciousness after confirming his status as the Champion Hurdle’s ante-post favourite, but there is nothing unfamiliar about the horse’s trainer and jockey.

Sam Twiston-Davies celebrates his victory on The New One
Sam Twiston-Davies celebrates his victory on The New One

Trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies already has two Grand Nationals and a Cheltenham Gold Cup to his name, while his 21-year-old son Sam is now regarded as Britain’s best young jockey with an enthusiasm that is infectious.

At times, their relationship is an uneasy one – Twiston-Davies junior agreed that his father is “the old one” and they are not afraid to air their disagreements, but the trainer was clearly emotional as The New One and ‘the boy’ returned to a rousing reception in the winner’s enclosure after landing the International Hurdle at Cheltenham.

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It completed a remarkable 35 minutes for father and son after a courageous victory from Double Ross in the Stewart Family Thank You Gold Cup and continued a familiar theme in the NH season.

Following the successes of the Tizzard and Moore families with Cue Card and Sire De Grugy respectively in recent weeks, it illustrates the extent to which racing yards do depend on family loyalties to even survive.

The Twiston-Davies team is no exception – their stable did not enjoy a boost in numbers after Imperial Commander’s Gold Cup win on 2010 on a momentous afternoon when Twiston-Davies junior also won his first race at the Festival.

They have been unable to put up their training fees for seven years due to the downturn and the jockey has now invested his prize money heavily into his father’s business – they believe that The New One is the best horse to ever grace the famous Naunton gallops near Cheltenham.

Now out of novice company, The New One’s only blemish came with a far from fluent jump at the last as his rival Zarkandar challenged after Daryl Jacob’s horse had come off worst in a coming-together with outsider Jumps Road approaching the final flight.

A proud Twiston-Davies senior said: “It’s different class, having the boy on board makes it extra special.

“Winning races with Carl (Llewellyn) who is my best mate was great, but that is an extra bit again. What I loved was when the other horse got to him he quickened away – that was Champion Hurdle-type acceleration. To run off a good pace and quicken like that is superb.”

Twiston-Davies will now produce The New One again in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton on Boxing Day.

“He’ll have the entry and as long as he is 100 per cent he will go, as there’s so few races for him otherwise. You’d have to wait until February,” he said.

His son added: “I missed the last, but he has so much boot underneath him that I gave him a kick in the belly and off he went.

“I am a bit annoyed with myself, as I said one thing I wouldn’t do was hit the front before the last, but the horse is very good.”

As The New One is regarded by Twiston-Davies as about the best he has trained along with Imperial Commander, the same would not apply to Double Ross, who plays more of a supporting role for Grange Hill Farm.

This was, though, their first victory after countless placed efforts in the valuable Grade Three handicap over two miles and five furlongs.

A springer in the market at 7-1, Double Ross was on his second stint over fences and had only five chasing starts to his credits before being pitched into a competitive heat.

He held on gamely up the run-in as his lead diminished with every stride.

“I needed to fill him up down the hill after a mistake to try to get a bit of life back in him and when I turned in, he finished really well,” said the jockey.

“The last 100 yards were a bit scary, but he’s very genuine.”

At Doncaster on Saturday, Fox Norton was a surprise winner in the BetVictor Summit Juvenile Triumph Hurdle for Devon trainer Nick Williams, who has enjoyed so much success in global cross-country races.

He was at Cheltenham on Friday to lift the Crystal Cup for the second successive year – his wife Jane took the owner’s award while riding honours went to Saltburn’s James Reveley, who rides the Williams horses in France.

Reveley enjoyed a notable win for his father Keith when Night In Milan went one better than last year in the BetVictor Handicap Chase.

Beaten by the narrowest of margins when coming with a late run 12 months ago, Reveley adopted different tactics and made the running, putting in some spectacular leaps.

He was just about headed at the second-last by De Boitron but battled back to win by six lengths in a one-two for Yorkshire – the jockey said that a mighty leap at the fourth last helped seal the race.

Given that De Boitron won at Wetherby a week previously over two miles, and was conceding 15lb in weight to the winner, this was a fine effort by Sue and Harvey Smith’s horse who appears to have the scope for a race like the Byrne Plate at the Cheltenham Festival.

As for the winner, Reveley senior said: “We’ll come back in January (25th) for the Sky Bet Chase but the worry would be he wouldn’t get his own way in front in a more competitive race.

“He’s a quite brilliant jumper and is still a young horse really at seven.”