Nigel Twiston-Davies: My Festival team
Nigel Twiston-Davies talks us through his team for the Cheltenham Festival, including Double Ross and Splash of Ginge.
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The New One:
He is just a nice horse - totally uncomplicated. There will be pace but, if there is no pace, others will struggle more than us. The New One quickens and has a phenomenal turn of foot
Someone showed me some statistics. He covered the last two furlongs, over the same track as Hurricane Fly last year, unbelievably quicker. I don't understand how to access such information but that's what they showed me.
I hope his turn of foot will win him the day. We don't know if he will win - he has never met Hurricane Fly and Our Conor.
He was on an impossible stride at the last in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton - that was the problem. His jumping has been absolutely superb all along and it was just bad luck. The reason we got beat at Kempton was that mistake at the hurdle.
At Cheltenham you can make a mistake at the last because there is the great big hill to put it right, but at Kempton there is only short-run-in. He did very well to get back within a half-length of My Tent Or Yours.
There are not many people who would disagree me when I say he would have won if he had jumped the last properly. It was just hard luck. One horse was on a good stride and other wasn't.
If The New One gets comprehensively stuffed, I would then look at three miles over hurdles. Big Buck's is not going to be around forever. The New One could go over fences but he seems so good over hurdles why bother with fences. We will probably school him at the end of the season to see how he likes fences.
We have a very good amateur called Jamie Bargary. He won on Hunters Lodge at Cheltenham in October but was unfortunate to go the wrong way at Towcester when they moved the whatsits. He had to have 14 days off but, as this covered days on which amateur races took place, he had nearly three months on the sidelines. He is an up-and-coming jockey and I think an awful lot of him.
Can Same Difference do it again in the Kim Muir? I don't know, but he's only 4lb higher in the weights and we know that some horses can just come alive on the big occasions. He seems very well.
According To Trev:
The plan is also for Jamie to ride this horse in the National Hunt Chase. It would be lovely to win because it is named after Terry Biddlecombe. I don't think four miles will worry him, and you'd give him a chance on his best form, but some superstar Irish horse normally takes this race.
There is a possibility that he might get into the Pertemps Final. He may get in because of the change in conditions, which have reduced the number of horses qualifying for the race. He qualified at Exeter the other day behind Fingal Bay but. he needs better ground than that.
Double Ross has done lots of good stuff at Cheltenham. He will go for the JLT Novices' Chase rather than the handicaps because there might be some improver lower in the weights there. He is more experienced over fences than most of the novices. I think experience over the Cheltenham fences is quite important. He has been around there three times this season. A horse like Oscar Whisky has got great form over hurdles, but he doesn't look to enjoy his jumping, whereas this horse really does.
He can go on any ground. It is a question of whether he will be good enough. He will take the race to them, being up with the pace.
Phil Smith [the BHA Head of Handicapping] was quite encouraging and tells me that a horse with his rating of 152 ought to be good enough to go well in the race.
Splash Of Ginge:
On the other hand, Phil Smith wasn't so keen on Splash Of Ginge going for the Sky Bet Supreme as he thinks he isn't good enough, but the winner of race last year was rated 148, while Splash Of Ginge is 142, only 6lb lower, and he doesn't have tp find a huge amount of improvement.
There won't be many runners - 10 to 12 - and in the handicaps there will be 24 with some well-weighted ones among them. He has improved a lot according to the formbook.
I wasn't surprised by Newbury because he ran well behind Irving at Ascot when he jumped poorly - it was the wrong way around for him and still was beaten only seven lengths. This way around, he is so much better - it gives a little bit of hope. If he keeps improving, he can win the race.
Sam will be on him. Sadly Ryan (Hatch) will probably not get a ride for me at The Festival but he had two superb weekends. It was lovely to give him a boost.
Hopefully, he will get in the Coral Cup. He would have a chance there. Otherwise, if he doesn't get in, he would go for the Martin Pipe and Ryan (Hatch) would ride.
He is in the last race of The Festival, the Grand Annual. He has won a lot at Cheltenham so he could be all right.
Tour Des Champs:
I'd like to run him in the handicap chase [Baylis & Harding], but I don't think he will get in. We will try. If he had been fluent over any of the last three jumps the other day, he could have been right there.
He'll run in the Cross-Country race if he gets in.
Little Jon was second at Newbury to a Nicholls' one, beaten five lengths, and is rated 133 in the County. I love him - he cost me three grand and he is for sale if anybody wants a Cheltenham Festival runner. He's a really smashing horse, by Pasternak - who is my favourite sire at the moment - and he will win a National one day. A great big lovely horse.
He will go for the Albert Bartlett, even though he is a bit lowly-rated for the race. He has won two novice hurdles and is very nice. He has got a good chance and is by the same sire - King's Theatre - as The New One.