Skip to main content Skip to site footer


1st January 2022 Cheltenham

By Graham Clark

Nigel Twiston-Davies continued his impressive strike rate at Cheltenham this season after Vienna Court took her form to new heights with a battling success in the Paddy Power New Year’s Day Handicap Chase.

The Naunton handler, who saddled more winners at Cheltenham than any other track in Britain, was back on the score sheet for the 155th time in his career at the Home of Jump Racing thanks to the seven year old Mahler mare.

Anchored at the rear of the field early on in the extended two and a half mile contest, the 10-1 chance steadily worked her way into contention under Sam Twiston-Davies to set up a late battle with eventual runner up Simply The Betts.

After mastering Simply The Betts half way up the run in Vienna Court eventually crossed the line with a length and three quarters in hand to follow up her last time out victory at the track in December.

The winning trainer said: “She was decisive here last time. I discussed it with the owners (James and Jean Potter) and said do we go for one of the lesser mares’ races, although they are quite tricky, or do we have a go a decent handicap for big money?

“We can now go back for a mares’ race where she will probably be odds-on for the next one. She is still a novice and in a novice conditions race she must have a hell of a chance.

“She was last early on. Sam was a bit worried but as soon as he switched her on he couldn’t stop her. He (Simply The Betts) did throw it down but I hoped she still had a bit up her sleeve.

“She has won quite a few novice hurdles on heavy ground so I wasn’t worried about it.

“It has been good here this season as it is our local course. The interesting thing is that I’ve had more winners here than any other racecourse.”

An outing in the Grade Two Mrs Paddy Power Mares’ Chase at the Festival could now be on the cards for Vienna Court according to Twiston-Davies.

He added: “Zambella will go there but if she wins her next mares’ race we will have to think about it for her as well.

“At the moment she wouldn’t be as good as Zambella (stablemate) but she would be a good successor to her. Ratings wise she would be nowhere near as good but they are two nice mares.”

Amateur rider David Maxwell gained compensation for his misjudgement aboard Cat Tiger at Doncaster on Wednesday when galvanising Dolphin Square to glory in the Paddy Power Handicap Hurdle (3m).

After going too early at Town Moor aboard Cat Tiger, the enthusiastic amateur timed his fractions to perfection on this occasion when delivering the Philip Hobbs-trained 28-1 chance with a well-timed late challenge to deny Kansas City Chief by a length and a quarter.

Maxwell said: “I made a complete mess up at Doncaster on Wednesday. I looked up at what I thought was two out and saw three fences ahead of me and I knew I’d gone too soon.

“I got the rollocking Paul Nicholls gave me, by which I mean that he rollocked Harry Derham for not giving me the right instructions which he gave me in full measure.

“The instructions were right but the execution was wrong but that is race riding you make a mistake and you learn from it. I will remember at Doncaster next time not to go too soon.

“He (Dolphin Square) is such a game horse. He is as game as a badger and I just knew as long as I held onto the back of them he would take me up the hill.

“On this ground I fancied it to suit him. He is such a trier. You couldn’t ask for a more willing racehorse.

“To people who say jump racing in this country isn’t in rude health look here today and in March. This is wonderful.”


Cookie Policy

We use “cookies” to help enhance your experience and improve the functionality of our website. You can find out more in our cookie policy. We also serve cookies, some with chocolate chips, on our racecourses.