Nigel Twiston-Davies initially combined training as a permit-holder with his farming interests throughout the 1980s, before the agricultural recession prompted him to make training his full-time profession. He secured his first winner when Last Of The Foxes won at Hereford in March, 1982.
Twiston-Davies took out a full training licence in 1989, recording his first win as a public trainer in December of that year with Babil at Newbury. He has since gone on to register more than 1,250 successes. Born on 16 May, 1957, Twiston-Davies rode 17 winners as an amateur jockey under Rules and gained a further 17 point-to-point victories. He also served as assistant trainer to Richard Head and Fred Rimell.
A childhood neighbour and friend of Peter Scudamore, he went into partnership with the former champion Jump jockey to set up stables at Grange Hill Farm, Naunton, Gloucestershire, although Scudamore is no longer involved in the venture. Twiston-Davies successfully adopted and developed the pioneering techniques of Martin Pipe, such as interval training and regular blood tests for his string, enabling him to rapidly raise his profile among the training ranks.
He is the only current trainer to have won the Grand National more than once, saddling Earth Summit to victory in 1998 and Bindaree four years later. The 2001/2002 campaign had been relatively quiet by Twiston-Davies’ high standards before Bindaree provided him with his second John Smith’s Grand National success. Afterwards he revealed that he had been intending to give up training, but despite “having a bigger debt than Argentina” after buying out Scudamore, the Aintree victory made him have a change of heart.
Twiston-Davies has gained 13 successes at the Cheltenham Festival, including Imperial Commander’s famous victory in the 2010 totesport.com Cheltenham Gold Cup, the first leg of a treble on the day for the trainer. Immediately after the Gold Cup, his son Sam rode Baby Run to victory in the Christie’s Foxhunter, and the last race, the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase, went to stable stalwart Pigeon Island under Gold Cup-winning stable jockey Paddy Brennan.
Other big-race triumphs include the Sandown Gold Cup with Beau (2000), the Hennessy Gold Cup with King’s Road (2000), the Scottish Grand National with Captain Dibble (1992), Earth Summit (1994) and Little Bud (2009), and the Welsh Grand National with Earth Summit (1997) and Bindaree (2003). His best season numerically was the 2007/08 campaign when the stable enjoyed 87 victories. He ended the 2009/2010 campaign with 70 wins after having joined up with his longstanding stable jockey, Carl Llewellyn, again at the start of the season. Llewellyn, who rode for 19 years for Twiston-Davies, returned to Grange Hill Farm in partnership with the trainer.
Twiston-Davies has got off to a fine start to this season, having already sent out 61 winners (before racing on Monday, 15 November).