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Tuesday, 18 December, 2018

Sam Twiston-Davies to leave top job with Paul Nicholls and go freelance

Harry Cobden to take over as number one at Ditcheat

Sam Twiston-Davies: will go freelance this season
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Sam Twiston-Davies is to go freelance this season, but will continue to ride on a regular basis for ten-time champion trainer Paul Nicholls, who he joined as number one jockey in 2014.

Twiston-Davies, 25, who has recorded a century of winners for the last five seasons, retains hopes of being champion jockey one day, and believes the new arrangement will give his career a boost going into the new campaign, which starts at Uttoxeter and Hexham on Saturday.

“It’s my decision to go freelance and now that I’ve made it I am going to give it everything I’ve got,” Twiston-Davies said.

“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."

Profile: Sam Twiston-Davies

He added: “There are lots of other jockeys getting rides with Paul and I feel I’ll be better placed to take the next forward step by operating as a freelance jockey.

“From the outside I’m sure it will be viewed as a bit of an eyeopening decision, but I’m happy with it and am determined to get the new season off to a flyer.

“Dad [Nigel Twiston-Davies] and Dr [Richard] Newland will continue to support me as they have done for many years. I’ve the utmost faith that my agent Chris Broad will be able to get me more outside rides now. I’ve got the best of both worlds, really. Things won’t be that different – I’ll still be riding plenty for Paul, but not as number one.”

Cobden to be new number one

Harry Cobden, who has increasingly been given more opportunities at Ditcheat in recent months and rode Grade 1 winner Diego Du Charmil at Aintree, will take over from Twiston-Davies as Nicholls’ number one. 

Harry Cobden: the new number one rider for Paul Nicholls
The trainer said: “Harry will become our number one as Sam is going freelance. I expect Sam to have as many rides and winners for me over the next 12 months as he did during the last season.

Report: Diego Du Charmil beats Petit Mouchoir to grab Grade 1 honours at Aintree

“Harry has been with us since the age of 16. A lot of my owners have wanted to use him. We’ve lots of good jockeys here, such as Harry, Bryony Frost and Sean Bowen, and it’s hard to keep everybody happy. Sam can ride for everyone now. There has been no falling out. We’re still all mates, it’s just a restructuring on both sides.”

Dream team off to a flying start

The Twiston-Davies/Nicholls partnership got off to a brilliant start during the 2014-15 campaign when the rider partnered a career-best tally of 145 winners, which produced a total of almost £2.5 million in prize-money.

Victories during that memorable season included the Grade 1 triumphs of Dodging Bullets in the Queen Mother Champion Chase and Tingle Creek Chase, plus an incredible run of success in the major Saturday races through the winter.

Dodging Bullets (centre) was an important horse for Twiston-Davies and Nicholls when the pair began their relationship
However, Twiston-Davies’s total of 108 winners during the latest season was his lowest since and, while that number can be partly explained by a six-week spell on the sidelines due to injury at the end of 2017, the increasing opportunities given to his Ditcheat teammates Cobden and Frost were also a factor.

Twiston-Davies is a 14-1 shot to win the Stobart-sponsored jockeys' title with William Hill, with Cobden a 25-1 shot and Frost 66-1. Richard Johnson is 4-11 favourite to retain his crown.

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I’m not going to be number one to Paul any more, but he’s still going to give me plenty of rides
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