Willy Twiston-Davies’ riding future still in doubt
28th October 2017,5:05 am
THIS time last year Willy Twiston-Davies was about to sign off after another red-hot summer.
His 33 Flat winners included a Royal Ascot success and he was regularly put up by top trainers like Roger Charlton and William Haggas.
Now Twiston-Davies, 22, must decide whether to quit race-riding after weight problems cut short his Flat career with 189 winners to his name.
It’s a choice he will make with two metal rods and a handful of screws in his back after a bone-crunching fall on the first day of last season’s Cheltenham Festival. He led on favourite Foxtail Hill in the Close Brothers Novices’ Chase when the pair took a crashing tumble.
Twiston-Davies got a kicking and ended up with two fractured vertebrae, cracked ribs and plenty of bruises. He told me: “I was in hospital for six days and had a six-hour operation.
“It took a long time to feel normal again. It felt weird just getting in the bath or lying in bed with the metal in my back. The rods will have to stay in for two more years at least.”
Yet, after seven months of rehabilitation he is fighting fit again and rides work five times a day at his dad Nigel’s Cotswold stables.
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He is certainly fit enough to be racing at Cheltenham today.
However, it’s not that simple as Twiston-Davies has his fingers in more pies than little Jack Horner.
His desire to train burns ever more fiercely and he has also teamed up with older brother Sam and owner John Nield to deal in bloodstock.
The trio have been ‘pin-hooking’ — buying foals and selling them on as yearlings for the last three years.
Twiston-Davies has also been busy buying store horses and looking for bargains at the sales. He said: “The bloodstock side is very busy.
“The foals have all made money so it has just got bigger and bigger. The other thing about not race-riding is the fact I have more time to help dad out at the yard. I’ve always wanted to train sooner rather than later.”
Twiston-Davies burst on to the scene as a 16-year-old winning the Fox Hunters’ at Aintree on Baby Run.
And his 2016 Royal Ascot win gives him entry to an exclusive club of jockeys to have ridden a winner over the still-fearsome Grand National fences and at the Royal meeting too.
Six-footer Twiston-Davies said: “I was heavy for the Flat but I used to be able to control it. I did 8st 6lb at one point, which was a bit ridiculous, but I could do 8st 9lb every year.
“I’d have loved to have continued on the Flat but it wasn’t physically possible. The weight was becoming harder to lose. There were some great days like the Royal Ascot win on Primitivo, and winning on Sands Of Fortune at Glorious Goodwood.
“Yet I knew it couldn’t last.
“I said I would give myself a break at the end of last season. I soon realised it was a mistake as my weight ballooned very quickly.”
Now Twiston-Davies must decide whether to leave the saddle behind for good. He said: “I’ve achieved a lot over jumps and on the Flat but life is full of tough decisions.
“It has come to the point where I must decide whether to ride for the next couple of years or call it quits and look at the training and bloodstock side of things.”
Twiston-Davies is used to weighing things up but, whatever his decision, you can be sure he will continue to scale the heights.