Rising star Twiston-Davies sets sights on McCoy crown
While Ulster great Tony McCoy takes a well-earned break in Barbados on his road to recovery from injury, the young man tipped by many to succeed the Ulsterman as champion jockey was having a field day.
Sam Twiston-Davies rode a treble for champion trainer Paul Nicholls at Exeter yesterday, and while the 22-year-old has no chance of catching McCoy in the title race this season, his time is surely coming.
Victories on board Ptit Zig, Tara Point and Dormello Mo took Twiston-Davies' tally for the season to 67, still 85 behind McCoy, who is certain to be crowned champion for an incredible 20th successive time come April.
The 40-year-old misses Cheltenham's big three-day Open meeting which starts tomorrow but should be back from rib and shoulder injuries before the end of the month.
McCoy's great start to the campaign had raised hopes that he may become the first jockey to ride 300 winners in a season but - even though he already has 152 on the board - the odds are now against him achieving one of the sport's great landmarks this time around.
McCoy holds the current record of 289 winners, set back in 2002.
Ptit Zig, the Grade One-winning hurdler, made a winning debut over fences and has been cut to 14-1 (from 16) by Betfred for the Racing Post Arkle at the Cheltenham Festival in March.
Nicholls said: "I think Denman had his first run over fences in this race a few years ago and, though they are very different horses, there is every right to be very encouraged by that showing.
"He had been a bit careful schooling but he was the same over hurdles and jumped much better when he was racing.
"We will find another race like that before we raise our sights with him."
Queen Mother Champion Chase winner Sire De Grugy is lame behind and will miss his intended comeback in Sunday's Shloer Chase at Cheltenham.
It was confirmed last night that Barry Geraghty will miss the ride on Champion Hurdler and last year's WKD Hurdle winner Jezki at Punchestown on Sunday.
Geraghty will ride Greatwood Hurdle favourite Vaniteux at Cheltenham on Sunday instead.
Jezki, who won last year's Friday feature at the Down Royal Festival under McCoy, will be ridden by Mark Walsh in the Morgiana Hurdle.
Walsh rode Little King Robin - also down to run in Sunday's Punchestown showpiece - to victory in last month's WKD Hurdle.
"I know he has top weight but he looks a very good ride to have," said Geraghty of Vaniteux.
Ulster-owned Hurricane Fly, another possible Morgiana contender, is an entry for the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle on November 29.