Cheltenham - At The Races

Nigel Twiston-Davies

    Naunton trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies makes the short trip to Prestbury Park with several live contenders including Ballyandy, The New One and Wholestone in the Grade 1s plus Close Brothers favourite Foxtail Hill.
  • Friday 03 March 2017
  • Stable Tours

Nigel Twiston-Davies has had 17 winners so far at the Cheltenham Festival and - perched up at Naunton within breathing distance of the home of jump racing - he understandably gets excited with the prospect of increasing that total.

Ballyandy was on the scoreboard when landing the Champion Bumper 12 months ago and gave encouragement that he can provide another Festival delight when getting his act together in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury.

The New One is no stranger to the rigours of the four-day meeting and is set to contend his fourth Champion Hurdle, Flying Angel may try his luck against Altior in the Arkle Chase, Calet Mad could go for the National Hunt Chase and a strong team on the opening day could be completed by Foxtail Hill in the Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase.

Bristol De Mai, Ballyoptic and Wholestone add further spice on the following days so things could also be looking rosy at Grange Hill Farm later on in the week of the big meeting.

Twiston-Davies said: “The whole world is about Cheltenham Festival winners so I would be very disappointed not to have a winner. As long as they all run well and come back, I would be happy really. There are quite a few you cannot rule out so with luck we will have quite a few winners but you would be very over-optimistic to say it will happen.”

Nigel kindly spoke to Tony Elves of atttheraces.com about those he hopes will keep the flag flying for him at the 2017 Cheltenham Festival.

All Horses

Arctic Gold (IRE)

Trainer Says:

He is another who will go for the Pertemps Final. He won his qualifier at Sandown very well and it is hard to split my three in the race.

Video Form
1 Feb 2017:
27 Dec 2016:
31 Mar 2016:
17 Oct 2015:

Ballyandy

Trainer Says:

We have just about totally decided to go for the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle with Ballyandy. He cantered to the last in the Betfair Hurdle, quickened away nicely and we have always thought an awful lot of him. I cannot understand why he didn't do better in his first three races over hurdles, but he managed to handicap himself nicely in the Betfair Hurdle and he is trying to go on to better things now. We checked everything including his wind after his early run and nothing was amiss - maybe, with time he has got better. He has got plenty of speed - he won the Champion Bumper at the Festival again over two miles but no hurdles. I am really looking forward to that and hopefully we will be able to take our revenge on Moon Racer.

Video Form
21 Oct 2015:

Ballykan

Trainer Says:

Ballykan ran well in the BetBright Chase at Kempton and was having his first run since November. Having had a break he is sure to come on for that run and, hopefully, he will get in the Brown Advisory and Merriebelle Stable Plate. If he does get in you certainly wouldn’t rule him out.

Video Form
14 Aug 2016:
17 Jul 2016:
26 Jun 2016:
28 Nov 2015:
30 Sep 2015:

Ballymalin (IRE)

Trainer Says:

He has done nothing wrong all season and won four races. He is one of three contenders I have for the Pertemps Final and there is not a lot between them. He is a novice and he could be the one coming from down below and is still unexposed.

Video Form
21 Dec 2016:
15 Nov 2016:
9 Apr 2016:
4 Feb 2016:
9 Jan 2016:

Ballyoptic (IRE)

  • 7-y-o; bay gelding
  • Breeding: Old Vic - Lambourne Lace (Un Desperado)
  • Trained by: N A Twiston-Davies
  • Last Race: Aintree, 8 Apr 2017 16:20
  • Result: 5/11, tracked leaders, led before 5 out, headed briefly before 3 out, mistake 3 out, ridden and headed 2 out, no extra and lost 4th place run-in
  • View full form
Trainer Says:

He will go for the Stayers’ Hurdle and take on Unowhatimeanharry again. He was right upsides Unowhatimeanharry at Ascot when he fell and then was a bit disappointing at Cheltenham last time but he has had some time off and come back really well and strong. He gallops and stays and let's hope he can do the business.

Video Form
8 Oct 2016:
19 Mar 2016:
21 Feb 2016:
26 Dec 2015:

Bristol De Mai (FR)

Trainer Says:

I think Bristol De Mai is very exciting in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. He was really good in the Peter Marsh at Haydock and we can put a line through Newbury - he wasn't himself that day. When he got back here, he was very lame and something must have happened in the race. He had a whole week of lameness and not being right. He has come right and if he can stay sound then he is very good. He seems 100 per cent now and I am very hopeful. He did not jump with his normal fluency and hung badly to his left at Newbury and he has not done anything like that before. Hopefully, he will be right back in the Gold Cup fray again. He stays and jumps and is uncomplicated. What we saw at Haydock was phenomenal. He has had a nice long break now and appears in great form. The ground is not a worry and it will inconvenience others more than him if it is soft. He seems to go on anything and was second in the JLT Novices' Chase at The Festival last year. He was over keen in his younger days but he settles much better now and that will enable him to stay as long as you want. I think he is very much under the radar after Newbury but let’s hope he can prove the doubters wrong.

Video Form
26 Nov 2016:
30 Oct 2015:
27 Dec 2014:

Calett Mad (FR)

Trainer Says:

He will go for the JT McNamara National Hunt Chase on the first day. He is a very nice horse and it was disappointing that he was beaten at Wetherby but I think we put that down to the soft ground. He was very impressive at Taunton on better ground on his previous start. Ideally he wants better ground but he will act on good to soft. He is rated 148 and should be right there in the mix.

Video Form
11 Jan 2017:
26 Nov 2016:

Flying Angel (IRE)

  • 6-y-o; grey gelding
  • Breeding: Arcadio - Gypsy Kelly (Roselier)
  • Trained by: N A Twiston-Davies
  • Last Race: Ayr, 22 Apr 2017 14:10
  • Result: PU/5, led to 9th, tracked leader, lost place when blundered badly and good recovery by rider 5 out, behind from next, weakened and pulled up before 2 out
  • View full form
Trainer Says:

Flying Angel is one of the puzzles of the whole thing. He was very good at Warwick in the Kingmaker so what do we do? Should we take on the supposedly unbeatable Altior or do we go for what could be an easier task in the JLT? You should not be frightened of one horse but have not made our minds up and will probably be discussing it right up to the end.

Video Form
8 Oct 2016:
14 Oct 2015:

Foxtail Hill (IRE)

Trainer Says:

Foxtail Hill was very impressive at Cheltenham at the end of January and he has managed to stay inside the rating band of 0-140 for the Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase which concludes the opening day. The race is nearly always a slightly lower class JLT because all the runners are within 3lb or 4lb of each other. I think he has one of our best chances at the Festival and I am very hopeful for him. He is quite keen but you can ride him anyway.

Video Form
27 Oct 2016:
19 Oct 2016:
19 Jul 2015:
30 May 2015:
25 Oct 2014:

Splash of Ginge

Trainer Says:

He has been a wonderful horse over the years and he will go for the Pertemps Final. He has done well since we put him back over hurdles and he qualified at Chepstow the other day.

Video Form
25 Feb 2017:
9 Oct 2016:

The New One (IRE)

Trainer Says:

We have decided that The New One goes for the Champion Hurdle, we are all agreed on that. The race is not as hot it has been in the past, there no Faugheen this year, and if you look at the ratings, the handicapper as he tells us is always right, The New One should be right there at the finish. There is only 1lb between him and Yanworth who are the two top rated horses in the race and Cheltenham brings out the best in him. He was only beaten eight lengths last year and the different tactics we are employing now should turn that around. I am very excited by him and looking forward to the day. This will be his fourth Champion Hurdle and he was very unlucky in his first one - hopefully this is the year that everything will fall right for him. He has had soundness issues in the past but we are happier than we have been for a long time. He did not seem to be showing his age when he won the International Hurdle at Cheltenham - he seemed to sparkle that day. He has never liked Haydock but managed to win there. Back at his favourite course, he will be flying up the hill. It would be absolutely wonderful if he won - he has been so brilliant for us over the years.

Wholestone (IRE)

  • 6-y-o; brown gelding
  • Breeding: Craigsteel - Last Theatre (King's Theatre)
  • Trained by: N A Twiston-Davies
  • Last Race: Cheltenham, 17 Mar 2017 14:50
  • Result: 3/15, mid-division, tracked leaders after 3 out, challenged next, every chance between last 2, one pace in 3rd when switched left before last, no impression with front pair after
  • View full form
Trainer Says:

He will go for the Albert Bartlett and he done nothing wrong all season. He has won three times around Cheltenham and is not flashy but he does what he has to do and gets things done. Three miles really suits and the ground is not a problem. He just keeps pulling out that little bit extra and we don’t know what the Irish will bring over but he deserves to be one of the favourites.

Video Form
28 Nov 2015:
29 Oct 2015:
25 Sep 2015:
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