AFTER a spell as stable jockey to ten-times champion trainer Paul Nicholls, Sam Twiston-Davies took what looked to be a bold step when deciding to sever his ties to ride as a freelance this season, but a double at Stratford on Saturday continued the momentum built up over the summer months, lifting his score to 48 for the campaign, writes David Hucker.
Twiston-Davies has the support of his father Nigel’s highly-successful yard and they were on the mark with One Forty Seven, who registered his first win at the 11th attempt in the William Hill Leading Racecourse Bookmaker Handicap Chase when taking advantage of the blunder by leader Return Flight to beat Opechee by 11 lengths in the only race of the day to be run faster than the Racing Post standard time.
The day had started well for Twiston-Davies as odds-on Dandolo Du Gite made all the running to take the opening Aye Aye Reggie “National Hunt” Maiden Hurdle over two and three-quarter miles to add to his Fontwell bumper win.
Trainer Neil Mulholland, who had been on the mark in the last race at Wincanton the day before, will be hoping that, despite a tendency to jump to the right, the lightly-raced Dandolo Du Gite can build on this success, having recorded two wins from just four runs.
Another jockey in double-winning form was Bryony Frost, who missed virtually all the summer jumps campaign through injury, starting with Gaelic Flow, who quickly went clear after going past leader Turnbury before the final flight to land the Euan Robertson Memorial Novices’ Handicap Hurdle.
She was on the scoresheet again when Canford Thompson was an even wider margin winner of the closing Kevin Watson Lady Riders’ Handicap Hurdle. Ridden in exactly the same way as her earlier winner, Frost never had a moment’s doubt as Neil King’s runner powered 14 lengths clear of Olly Murphy’s So Sorry Sarah, who would have finished closer but for hitting the final flight, although was no match for the winner.
A second win from just five rides for the King stable in the last fortnight, Canford Thompson was a 65th career success for Frost, who had such a prolific winning time last season on Black Corton, who helped establish her career as a professional after a grounding in point-to-points.
The drying ground came just in time for Dan Skelton’s consistent Excellent Team in the Amadeus Catering Selling Hurdle, with all four of his wins having come on good or fast going, but he was no match for former stable companion Atlantic Storm, who was brought to challenge going to the last by Aidan Coleman and go clear to score for Pembrokeshire trainer David Rees.
Another for whom the drying conditions were ideal was Solstalla, who was pulled up on her only run on heavy ground.
Ridden by Page Fuller, she proved too good for top-weight Shambra in the Watch Racing UK On Sky 426 Mares’ Handicap Hurdle, overcoming a blunder at the final flight to win by one and half lengths.
In a race where all of the runners looked to have something to prove, Saffron Prince and Daniel Hiskett collared front-running course winner Deise Vu to land the Hammersly Lake Good Luck In America Tonight Handicap Chase for Cotswold trainer David Bridgwater after his Opechee had finished runner-up earlier on the card.
Hammersly Lake himself finished unplaced for owner Rob Aplin and Over Norton trainer Charlie Longsdon in the $450,000 American Grand National run at Far Hills Racecourse in New Jersey, as favourite Jury Duty, yet another big race winner for Gordon Elliott, beat Tornado Watch to make it a 1-2 for Ireland.