Cheltenham's International meeting lived up to its name at the weekend by attracting runners from France and Germany but had to go little further than the next village for its principal victors, The New One and Double Ross, trained and ridden by Nigel Twiston-Davies and his son, Sam.
The New One did not exactly saunter home in the International Hurdle, being hard-pressed for a few strides on the run-in by the renewed challenge of Zarkandar before winning by six lengths, but heads the Champion Hurdle market at 7-2. His credentials could be tested against his nearest market rival, My Tent Or Yours over Christmas at Kempton, but Sam Twiston-Davies is already looking past that rival to the reigning champion, Hurricane Fly.
"Hurricane Fly [is the one to fear]," he said. "He has done everything that can be achieved by a top-class hurdler. With what he has done, he's going to be very, very hard to beat. We have age on our side and at the same time I wouldn't swap my fellow for any of them. I wouldn't be worried about My Tent Or Yours. Obviously, he's a very classy horse but we've all got Hurricane Fly to beat."
The New One's drive to the finishing line was accompanied with a flourish of the chequered flag, signalling not victory but urging the jockeys to avoid the stricken form of Seabreeze D'Ho, who had fallen in front of the stands a circuit earlier. For the second Saturday running, jumps racing provided the sport with a televised death, the screens doing little to disguise the actuality. The trail through the winter already seems a long one.
Clan Twiston-Davies won the day's major handicap chase, the December Gold Cup, with the novice Double Ross, but even with the yard's notable success, now and over the years, the trainer admits times remain hard.
Best then to diversify – and No 2 son, Willy, who plies his trade on the Flat, bookended the family's weekend by landing the role as main jockey to Mick Channon next year, when Martin Harley departs to become stable jockey for Marco Botti. Channon, himself a dual-purpose trainer these days in alliance with Henrietta Knight, said: "He's a good lad with a strong family background. The fact that he's a bloody good jockey also has something to do with it."Reuse content