Sam Twiston-Davies Profile

Name Sam Twiston-Davies
Born Oct 15, 1992
Age 28 years
Birthplace Naunton, Gloucestershire
Height 5ft 10ins

Born into racing as the son of a trainer, Twiston-Davies has carved out his own successful career as a jockey with his winners including Dodging Bullets in the 2015 Champion Chase.

Racing is in the blood for Sam Twiston-Davies, son of two-time Grand National-winning trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies.

Sam already has a couple of 'nationals' under his belt - he's won the Scottish Grand National twice and has carved out a name for himself as a top jumps jockey.

He has been most successful when teaming up with trainer Paul Nicholls, as the pair did in 2015 to win the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham with Dodging Bullets.

Twiston-Davies was the number one jockey for Nicholls but now rides freelance and is the go-to jockey for trainers looking for confident and capable riders.

Racing in the blood

Growing up at the Twiston-Davies yard at Naunton near Cheltenham meant a young Sam was always around horses and hopping into the saddle was inevitable.

His first race on a racecourse was on January 15, 2009 aboard On Spec at Ludlow where he finished sixth in an amateur riders' handicap hurdle.

It shows Sam's ability that he was pitched into the 2010 Cheltenham Festival as a 17-year-old after riding only a handful of point-to-point races and a few hunter chases in preparation. His father Nigel, himself a former jockey, obviously saw the requisite talent and with the right horse in Baby Run, sent his son over the Foxhunters' course.

Sam Twiston-Davies pictured with his father, Nigel, in 2012

Baby Run had been owned by Peter Orton who produced the Bob the Builder kids' TV show and Twiston-Davies made child's play of the 2010 Foxhunter Chase by crafting a resounding lead and running the opposition ragged for a five-length victory.

Turning professional, Twiston-Davies earned the conditional jockeys' championship in 2010/11, riding 59 winners, including a Becher Chase victory over the Grand National fences on Hello Bud for his father in November 2010.

Without the finances of the big-hitter yards, the Twiston-Davies training operation needs the odd star to emerge and they got that in 2013 with The New One. Heading to the Cheltenham Festival, Twiston-Davies, in the red silks with the white star, led The New One to a powerful victory in the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle.

Twiston-Davies and The New One were to pair up regularly over the years with the horse earning more than £1million in prize money for connections. There was disappointment, however, when The New One was hampered by the falling Our Conor in the 2014 Champion Hurdle with Twiston-Davies' mount in contention for the win.

Nevertheless, his form over fences caught the eye of leading trainer Paul Nicholls and Twiston-Davies was to join the superstar jumps' operation at Ditcheat for the 2014/15 season.

The Paul Nicholls years

It wasn't long after switching the Cotswolds for Somerset that Twiston-Davies tasted his first big success for Nicholls aboard Caid Du Berlais in the 2014 Paddy Power Gold Cup Chase. He followed up with a pre-Christmas win in the Tingle Creek at Sandown on Dodging Bullets in December 2014.

Sam Twiston-Davies celebrates winning the 2015 Queen Mother Champion Chase on Dodging Bullets

That was a precursor to the 2015 Cheltenham Festival in which Twiston-Davies took advantage of the talent at his disposal under Nicholls with a pair of notable wins. He took the Coral Cup at a decent price of 9/1 aboard Aux Ptits Soins and then the prestigious Queen Mother Champion Chase on Dodging Bullets.

2014/15 saw Twiston-Davies rack up a career-best 145 wins in a season, earning a hefty £2.5million in prize money.

The following season brought a further 128 wins, including some significant victories aboard Nicholls-trained horses. The standouts of 2015/16 for Twiston-Davies included success aboard All Yours in the Betfred Anniversary Four-Year-Olds Juvenile Hurdle followed by a win on Old Guard for Nicholls in the International Hurdle at Cheltenham in December 2015.

A trip to the 2016 Cheltenham Festival brought success on Diego Du Charmil in the Fred Winter and Solar Impulse in the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase for Nicholls, as well as in the Champion Bumper on Ballyandy for his father.

Twiston-Davies then went on to win the Scottish Grand National twice in a row on the Nicholls-trained stayer Vicente. His tally of 137 winners in 2016/17 was close to his career-best and few would have expected a parting of ways between the up-and-coming jockey and the legendary trainer.

Yet, in May 2018 it was announced that Twiston-Davies had decided to go freelance and would no longer be the retained star for Nicholls at Ditcheat.

Sam Twiston-Davies and Paul Nicholls ended their partnership in 2018

"I'm not going to be number one to Paul any more, but he's still going to give me plenty of rides. I've been massively lucky in my career to date. I'm still relatively young and I still want to progress," Twiston-Davies told the Racing Post.

Going freelance

Twiston-Davies' decision to chance his arm away from Ditcheat meant he could ride more horses for his father and also other trainers, such as Dr Richard Newland and Neil Mulholland.

He paired up with Worcestershire trainer Newland to win the Grade One Gerard Bertrand Hurst Park Handicap Chase aboard Caid Du Lin in November 2018. He then claimed victory in the Grade Three 888Sport Handicap Chase on Walt for Mulholland at Kempton in February 2019, showing there was life beyond Nicholls.

Twiston-Davies totted up his 1,000th career win in June 2019 with a double in the last two races at Southwell.

Ballyoptic provided Twiston-Davies with a chance to bring a decent prize home on a horse trained by his father in the Charlie Hall Chase in November 2019. A three-and-three-quarter-length victory at Wetherby on Ballyoptic brought home a cool £57,218 prize.

However, the split with Nicholls was never total and Twiston-Davies was entrusted with a ride on Clan Des Obeaux in the 2019 King George VI Chase at Kempton. He prevailed by an easy 21 lengths on the Sir Alex Ferguson-owned horse as Clan Des Obeaux put stablemate Cyrname in the shade.

Leaving the top-jockey job with Nicholls was always going to be a leap of faith and there have been difficult times, not least when Twiston-Davies went on a 36-ride losing streak in 2020 which he broke with a Huntingdon treble in November 2020.

Twiston-Davies followed up with a win on Master Tommytucker for Nicholls in the Back And Lay On Betfair Exchange Graduation Chase at Haydock to show he is a jockey who can dig deep to achieve success, even after suffering setbacks.

This is a jockey prepared to move out of his comfort zone and Twiston-Davies will be one to watch in the Cheltenham Festival 2021, attacking the obstacles on various horses run by trainers who trust his horsemanship implicitly.

"Keep your head down and work hard and then nobody can judge you. You'll always get appreciated for your dedication," said Twiston-Davies in a BBC Sport interview, characteristic of his understated-yet-industrious outlook.

Sam Twiston-Davies' personal life

Sam Twiston-Davies is the son of leading jumps trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies, who has twice sent out the winner of the Grand National. His mother Cathy was an accomplished horsewoman herself, winning a race under rules as a jockey.

His brother Willie was a professional jockey before retiring at the age of 23 in 2017 after breaking two vertebrae in a fall at Cheltenham.

Away from racing, Twiston-Davies enjoys movies, playing football and playing on the X-Box.

He is dating professional flat jockey Nicola Currie.

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