Local trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies and his jockey son Sam enjoyed a big-race double as they combined with Cogry and Foxtail Hill to win both the feature £50,000 handicap chases on day two of The Showcase at Cheltenham on Saturday, October 28.
A record crowd of 18,320 for the Saturday of The Showcase was on hand to watch the thrilling seven-race card, run on ground described as good, good to soft in places.
2.00pm £50,000 Randoxhealth.com Handicap Chase, 3m 1f
Cogry (13/2, Nigel Twiston-Davies, Sam Twiston-Davies) got no further than the first fence in the 2016 renewal of the Randoxhealth.com Handicap Chase, but the eight-year-old atoned for that early departure with a fine display of jumping.
Last season’s Scottish Grand National runner-up travelled strongly throughout the three mile, one furlong contest with 16 runners and galloped out strongly to beat Singlefarmpayment (11/2, Tom George/Adrian Heskin by four lengths with the only moment of concern coming with a slight mistake at the final fence.
Sam Twiston-Davies said: “It’s nice to be back at Cheltenham and on a horse like Cogry, who is very tough and all heart. This is the horse that got one of my best friends, Ryan Hatch, out of the game and hopefully, he will be back before too long.
“Cogry was very brave today and has done very well, so I am really happy. We had a communication problem at the last – I was trying to go for a big one to make sure that he came up and he did, but it was one of those that was a little bit of a mess. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
“He saw out the Scottish Grand National really well so it was just a question of getting him jumping. When we turned in, he has picked up going up the hill really well and maybe got a bit lonely late on, but it was a solid effort.
“Graham Jelley [owner] sadly can’t be here today but I promised him yesterday that we would make up for the Scottish National, when I nabbed Cogry on Vicente. It was nice that we could pay him back today.
“I would imagine the Randox Health Grand National (at Aintree in April) will be the dream. He is a tough horse who has done very well in races like the Scottish National, but didn’t have the best of luck in the Becher Chase last year when making a bad mistake at the first. I guess he will have to have a little practice along the way, but I suppose Aintree is the long-term dream.”
3.10pm £50,000 Randox Health Handicap Chase 2m
The jockey and trainer also teamed up to capture the 15-runner two-mile Randox Health Handicap Chase with Foxtail Hill (15/2), who gamely made all and fended off the late challenge of Le Prezien (5/2F, Paul Nicholls/Barry Geraghty) to prevail by a neck.
Sam Twiston-Davies said: “I didn’t think that Foxtail Hill would be sharp enough early , but he got into a really good rhythm – he has winged every fence and was very brave when he needed to be in the straight.
“I said to Dad beforehand that there were a lot of sharp horses in the race and I wouldn’t be surprised if we had to sit a little bit further back, but he was adamant that Foxtail Hill had been really raring at home and there wasn’t a horse that could lay up with him in his early bits of work.
“The horse got into a great rhythm, found it all smooth and jumped really well when I needed him to. It was a little bit of a surprise but, at the same time, I am really happy.
“Paul Nicholls obviously gets his horses very fit and, when you see them coming, you know that it is going to be a real fight. One thing about Foxtail Hill is that he is a really tough horse and he was always going to dig in when it came to a scrap.
“It was a good test today and, depending what the handicapper does, he will probably take his place in the BetVictor Gold Cup (G3, 2m 4½f, November 18) back here next month. He will be one of those horses that whoever is riding him will be looking forward to because he is very tough and can be hard to peg back round here.”
It was a a 64.25/1 double for team Twiston-Davies.
2.35pm £35,000 Masterson Holdings Hurdle 2m
Twobeelucky (9/4, Andrew Lynch) provided County Waterford handler Henry de Bromhead with a perfect 45th birthday present as the four-year-old gained an easy victory over Arthington (Seamus Mullins/Kevin Jones) in the Masterson Holdings Hurdle.
A bold round of jumping saw the four-year-old score by five lengths, with 8/15 favourite Bedrock (Dan Skelton/Harry Skelton) disappointing in third, a neck further back.
Henry de Bromhead said: “Twobeelucky has always looked a nice horse. He won his first two races and then ran into a very good horse of Joseph O’Brien’s at Galway. It’s great to see him back winning again.
“We came in here hoping that we had a good chance and we liked our horse a lot. He wasn’t far off Bedrock on ratings, so I didn’t think that we were mad out of it. He was rated 80-odd on the Flat and Andrew gave him a super ride.
“Before this race, he was going to go back to owner Roger Brookhouse’s for his holidays and I would imagine that is what he is still going to do. He has been busy all summer, so we might back off him for a few weeks and then bring him back for the spring. We will speak to Roger and see what he would like to do.
Andrew Lynch added: “Twobeelucky travelled well, jumped super and picked up in the straight. He is a fine, big horse who loves jumping. His wins have been around flatter tracks, so it was just a question of whether he would get up the hill or not.
“He is three from four over hurdles now, so he is not doing too badly!”
3.45pm £25,000 Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle 3m
Thomas Campbell (5/2f, Nicky Henderson/Nico de Boinville), fifth in the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle at The Festival in March, benefited from the step up to three miles with a comfortable success in the Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle.
The five-year-old stayed on well after hitting the front approaching the final flight and was driven out to win by two and a quarter lengths over 40/1 chance Milrow (Sophie Leech, Sean Houlihan (7)).
Nico de Boinville said: “I always thought that Thomas Campbell would progress for the step up in trip. I was a bit worried about the ground because it was riding a bit dead, so we tried to find our best way round, and it was great for him.
“I didn’t think that anyone was really willing to go on too much, so I thought that we better be up there rather than left behind. He sulks a bit in behind, so the plan was to give him loads of daylight and let him enjoy himself.
“That was a very nice starting point for him and a nice benchmark to see where the rest of our horses are. I hope that he will keep progressing but that was a nice starting point.”
4.20pm £25,000 Royal Gloucestershire Hussars Novices’ Chase 2m 4f
Double Treasure (Jamie Snowden/Gavin Sheehan, 9/1) produced an admirable display to take the Royal Gloucestershire Hussars Novices’ Chase and record a fourth straight win over fences.
The six-year-old, owned by Arsenal chairman Sir Chips Keswick, looked set for second as Two Taffs (Dan Skelton/Davy Russell) loomed up jumping the second last but battled gamely to prevail by three and three-quarter lengths.
Trainer Jamie Snowden said: “I thought that we were beaten at the top of the hill. Gavin has given Double Treasure a peach of a ride – he has jumped, galloped, stayed and was probably outpaced when the pace quickened up.
“I had stopped shouting for him and then he got a nice seam up the inner, jumped the last particularly well and stormed up the hill. It’s just a shame that Sir Chips can’t be here today – he has had a winner at Cheltenham twice and he hasn’t been here twice.
“It didn’t make any sense coming here today off a mark of 137 with a penalty taking on horses rated 150 but he had won his last three and this was the last time that he was able to run in a novice chase, so we thought that we would take our chance.
“He looks a straightforward horse now, but he was like a bull in a china shop in his younger days. He wanted to do everything at a million miles an hour and you couldn’t control him, so it has taken a lot of hard work to get him to this stage and all credit must go to my head girl, who rides him every day.
“I think we will go for the BetVictor Gold Cup (£160,000, G3, 2m 4½f, November 18) now. That was the plan before today and hopefully the handicapper doesn’t over-react on something like this.”
4.55pm Junior Jumpers Novices’ Hurdle 3m
Nigel Twiston-Davies completed a 139/1 treble with Calett Mad (6/5, Daryl Jacob), who made all for an easy victory over Robbin’Hannon (9/4, Philip Hobbs, Richard Johnson) in the Junior Jumpers Novices’ Hurdle.
The trainer commented: “I am delighted and it has all gone well. Cheltenham have done a wonderful job with decent ground, so that we can bring good horses here with no risk of injury.
“I was surprised how easy Calett Mad won. He did have 3lb and should have won, but perhaps not in that manner.”
Daryl Jacob said: “Calett Mad is a bit like Wholestone, who won this race last year and kept progressing, and I think this lad will hopefully do the very same. He has a big, galloping stride and seems to take horses out of their comfort zone very early.
“We got to a stage where it was going to be very, very difficult for him over fences, especially at Ayr when he produced a career-best and was just beaten. He is only a young horse so we decided to go down the Wholestone route.”
5.30pm Jockey Club Venues Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race 2m ½f
Herecomestheboom (8/1, Fergal O’Brien/Paddy Brennan) completed a good day for local trainers by taking the closing Jockey Club Venues Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race.
After travelling strongly into the race, the five-year-old had to be kept up to his work to beat Ainchea (7/2, Colin Tizzard/Bryan Cooper) by a length and a quarter as the first two home dominated the finish.Fergal O’Brien said: “I would have been happy if Herecomestheboom had finished in the first six but Paddy gave him a lovely ride and I was delighted with the run. We had no big plans - will take him back home and have a look – but he was very impressive today.”