Sam Twiston-Davies is one of the country’s leading jump jockeys and is one of ‘the good guys’ of racing.
Sam has ridden over 700 winners and was the retained jockey for Paul Nicholls from the 2014/15 season until 2018 when Sam announced he would be going freelance.
He still rides for Paul Nicholls and won a Grade One on one of his horses, Quel Destin, on Welsh National Day. Sam is well supported with rides by his father Nigel and Dr Richard Newland.
His biggest win to date were in the Queen Mother Champion Chase on the Paul Nicholls trained Dodging Bullets. He has also won the Ballymore and many other graded races on The New One.
I was lucky enough to chat to Sam on Wednesday about his life as a jockey.
When did you realise you wanted to be a jockey?
Well, I kind of grew up with it. My dad is a trainer and my mum had ridden so I thought it would be the right path to follow. I’m very lucky to now be doing it.
What’s your favourite thing about being a jockey?
The horses themselves. You get to sit on a wide variety and, fingers crossed, you go out with the hope that you’ll find the next really good one. Obviously, it’s quite tough and you do sit on a lot of not so good horses but, when you find one like The New One for example, it is very exciting.
If you could give an aspiring jockey one piece of advice, what would it be?
Work hard, keep your head down and listen to every piece of advice you get along the way.
What was it like working for Paul Nicholls?
He’s a very good boss and he’s trained a lot of winners even before I was riding for him and he’s still training them now. He wants to win as much a possible and it can mean he comes across quite hard sometimes but only because he wants to win but otherwise he’s a good boss and a good man to ride for. His dedication to the game is huge.
This is probably a tough question but who is the best horse you’ve ever ridden?
The New One because on his day he had so much potential and obviously he didn’t win a lot of grade ones but he he had a great way of going. He had so much potential; he won so many races and beat so many good horses. He did it all the way from when he was three until he was ten.
Are there any young horses who you are most looking forward to for the future?
It’s hard to know as we’ve got a lot of young horses in at the minute but the most likely one at the minute is looking like Al Dancer. He’s done very well so far. He goes off to the Betfair now and we’ll see how he gets on.
If you could ride any horse at Cheltenham,
who would it be?
Altior would be the obvious one- he is an outstanding horse. He has won everything we would want from him so far. If not, Native River in the Gold Cup looks to be one who would give you a great spin. He has a real nice way of going.
If you weren’t a jockey, what would you be?
I’ve always been intrigued with the military but I’m very lucky to do what I love so I won’t be giving up any time soon.
What do you think the racing authorities could do to get more people involved in racing?
It’s incredibly tough because of, obviously, the time you have to put in from day to day, from morning to evening, but I think the fact of the horses you get to spend time with is what we need to make more appealing and then people would understand what horses can do for you and what a kind animal they are and how much fun you can have with them.
If there was any horse, past or present, you could’ve ridden who would it be?
I wouldn’t mind having a few more go’s on Hello Bud.
As a kid, which jockey did you look up to most?
It was a combination of A P McCoy and Carl Llewellyn.
Joker of the Weiging Room?
Mathew Batchelor and Tom Scudamore wouldn’t be far behind.