Sam Twiston-Davies may no longer be stable jockey to Paul Nicholls – but he proved the perfect stand-in for Harry Cobden when rekindling their glory days aboard Clan Des Obeaux in the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase at Kempton.
There was a time when Nicholls and Twiston-Davies were among the most feared combinations in National Hunt racing, until going their separate ways 18 months ago, after four seasons filled with plenty of success.
While the big winners have continued to pour in for Nicholls, they have been few and far between for Twiston-Davies, but with Cobden opting to ride stablemate and favourite Cyrname, he showed what his former employer saw in him, steering the seven-year-old to his second successive victory in the Grade One feature.
Twiston-Davies said: “It is incredibly special, as I’ve been away from Paul and to come back to share moments like this – it shows the character of the man and the support he still has in me.
“I’m very lucky, and very lucky to work for three great teams. It is very hard to get Grade One rides and especially in a King George, as horses like that don’t come along very often.”
Being faced with tough riding decisions is something Twiston-Davies knows plenty about from his time with the Ditcheat handler, and he was quick to praise Cobden for his teamwork.
He said: “A lot of respect for Harry, as he helped me prepare – I looked through the videos and picked his brains and I’ve a lot of respect for someone doing that.
“It is incredibly tough to make these decisions, but at the end of the day it is part of a jockey’s life.
“When you have a job like Harry has, there will always be another good one around the corner.”
Though no stranger to success at the highest level, Twiston-Davies will make sure he savours every moment of his latest one.
He said: “When I was with Paul I did this quite a lot, but then it gets harder. We are very lucky that we have a fantastic team at home, with a lot of nice young horses, but those young horses are a few years off running in these races, so I’m lucky in getting a spare like this.
“When you are that age and riding and winning a lot of big races for Paul, you convince yourself it will keep happening all the time. So then when it doesn’t happen as often, I did say that if it does happen again I will enjoy it fully.”
But the celebrations might have to wait a while, with an early night in store.
Twiston-Davies said: “I will be in bed early, as I’ve Al Dancer tomorrow. I was coming in after the King George and the first thing dad said was, ‘come on, concentrate’, so I was quickly brought down to earth.
“Al Dancer is one of our nice young horses, so it will be early to bed to reply to text messages.”