The Cheltenham Festival – one of the UK’s premium horse racing events – is scheduled to return in March. Renowned Welsh trainer, Nigel Twiston-Davies will no doubt be hoping to add further triumphs to the list of his fellow countrymen who’ve been successful at the festival.
Although Twiston-Davies is now based close to Cheltenham, at Grange Hill Farm in Naunton, he was born almost 80 miles away in Crickhowell, Wales and proudly represents the town in front of millions of horse racing fans.
The festival is extremely popular with both casual and dedicated fans, who follow from the grandstand or at home. Hundreds of thousands of racing fans are expected to be in attendance over the four days. However, for those who can’t make it to the festival in person, Racing TV provides extensive coverage and lists free Cheltenham bets that can be used by fans everywhere. Additionally, millions also follow the action by watching along on TV or listening to the radio.
Twiston-Davies’ 2022 Entries
Twiston-Davies is one of the most successful active horse trainers in the industry today, he has believed to have trained over 1000 National Hunt winners, including 17 at Cheltenham.
He’s running over 20 horses from his stable at this year’s festival, so he’s sure to be confident of adding to his lengthy list of accolades.
I Like to Move It, a five-year-old gelding that won at Cheltenham in October and November in 2021, is expected to make a strong impact in this year’s Supreme Novices Hurdle.
Another of his horses, Fantastikas – who is set to compete in the Handicap Chase and the Challenge Cup Amateur Jockey’s Novices’ Chase – will also be one to watch.
Former Welsh Winners
If Twiston-Davies aims to be successful once more at the festival, he will certainly draw inspiration from previous Welsh-trained winners such as:
Norton’s Coin (1990)
Arguably the most famous of all Welsh trained horses, Norton’s Coin achieved the unbelievable feat of winning the 1990 Cheltenham Gold Cup despite being a 100/1 outside bet. That achievement was even more impressive when you consider that he was trained by Sirrell Griffiths, a dairy farmer with little previous experience.
He beat several heavily-fancied rivals in 6 minutes and 30 seconds, which was the quickest speed since 1953 at the time. Norton’s Coin also won the Silver Trophy Chase at Cheltenham in 1989 and 1991, which cemented his place as a legend of the festival.
Rebecca Curtis (2020)
The 2020 Cheltenham Festival saw another Welsh trainer make history, as Lisnager Oscar overcame a field of 15 to win the Stayer’s Hurdle. He was another shock winner, heavily unfancied at 50/1 before the race, he nevertheless embodied the Welsh “never say die” spirit.
He was trained by Rebecca Curtis who achieved the feat just three months after giving birth. She has also trained four other Cheltenham winners, with some of them sharpening their skills at some of Wales’ most popular racecourses. Wins for Teaforthree in 2012, at Fisher’s Cross in 2013, O’Faolain’s Boy in 2014 and Irish Cavalier in 2015 were also impressive. However, Lisnager Oscar was by far her biggest success, due to the hurdles overcome by both her and the horse on the way.
Continuing his Storied Career
Twiston-Davies himself has plenty of past Cheltenham triumphs to draw inspiration from, thanks to his many successes over the years.
One of his biggest achievements at the festival came in 2010 when three of his horses won on the same day. Baby Run won the Festival Hunter Chase, while Pigeon Island won the Grand Annual Chase – the oldest race at the festival. His most impressive and valuable win came in the marquee event, The Gold Cup, where Imperial Commander stormed to victory.
He hasn’t managed a day like that one in 2010 since, but with so many entries at Cheltenham this year, he’ll be looking to equal or better it.