Sam Twiston-Davies is still at a real school, but his precocious gifts as a rider mean that he has already graduated to the one of hard knocks. Yesterday the 17-year-old suffered an indignity no less palatable for the fact that far more experienced riders have been embarrassed in the same way, riding a finish a circuit too soon in a handicap hurdle at Perth.
Replacing the injured Paddy Brennan, Twiston-Davies pushed Hermoso forward between what he assumed to be the final two flights and, with his mount unsurprisingly still full of energy, went clear using just hands and heels. Some of his senior rivals shouted a warning, but he did not hear and eased Hermoso to a walk on the outside of the track, only to look on aghast as they embarked on the next circuit.
The stewards gave Twiston-Davies a 12-day ban, but as always no punishment will cause more anguish than his self-reproach. What's more he will know that there will be further reprimands to come, as he was riding for his father, Nigel, who is determined not to indulge his son's undeniable talent.
Later on the card Twiston-Davies confirmed the ability that had secured him the Foxhunters' Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March, not to mention fifth place in the Grand National, by winning a novice chase on Billie Magern. "I made a big mistake and simply did not do enough homework," Twiston-Davies said. "I should have known we pass the winning post three times. I was very down as I took the ride on Billie Magern, but he has cheered me up a little."
News that Denman will miss the Darley July Cup at Newmarket next week did not imply another egregious oddity on the National Hunt scene. For the top steeplechaser's namesake has established a similarly stellar reputation as a sprinter in Australia, and had been imported by Godolphin to try his luck in the northern hemisphere. Simon Crisford, the Godolphin manager, said: "It was always going to be 50-50 whether we could get him ready in time," he said. "He wouldn't be ready to do himself justice, so he's going to start quarantine and go back to Australia." Denman will now be retired to stud.
Godolphin did not declare Chabal for the Coral Eclipse Stakes at Sandown tomorrow, leaving a field of only six. Twice Over and Dar Re Mi set a formidable standard for the solitary three-year-old, Viscount Nelson.
Chris McGrath's Nap
Swinging Hawk (5.05 Sandown) German import proved well treated for his British debut when just failing to catch the winner at Pontefract 11 days ago, the pair eight lengths clear. Can run off the same mark.
Santefisio (3.35 Doncaster) Has looked unlucky on consecutive visits to Goodwood, finishing best after getting stuck in traffic on the first occasion and then caught out by a steady pace last time. Off the same rating today.
One to watch
After an interrupted and unproductive start to his career, Cloudy City (M Johnston) was a revelation stepped up to 12f at Wolverhampton the other day, failing by just half a length to run down the winner from the rear.
Where the money's going
Mawatheeq was yesterday backed from 7-1 to 6-1 with Ladbrokes for the Coral Eclipse Stakes at Sandown tomorrow.