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Remember The Name: Champagne Twist

Champagne Twist landed a competitive Novices’ Handicap Hurdle Final at Sandown in early March and is beginning to show his quality over obstacles, with his winning for the season unlikely to be done just yet.

His consistency should be admired, having earned form figures of 4211 since beginning his career over hurdles, and he is quickly becoming one of the stars of the in-form Ben Pauling yard.

The son of Shantou has now won on soft and good ground as well as finishing second on going described as heavy, with his versatility likely to prove vital in what looks set to be a promising career.

Horse Racing

Champagne Twist Trainer/Connections

Ben Pauling began life in racing as an assistant to legendary trainer Nicky Henderson, before pursuing a training career of his own in 2013.

Beginning with just eight horses in his first season of training - mainly owned by family and friends - Pauling enjoyed his best season to date last term, with 80 winners and a 19 percent strike-rate for the 2022-23 campaign.

Things only seem to be improving for the Cheltenham-based trainer too, as he has already amassed over £910,000 in prize money this season, £8,000 more than he totalled in the entirety of the previous campaign.

Pauling has trained three winners at the Cheltenham Festival in his short career, namely Willoughby Court, Le Breuil and, most recently, Global Citizen, and there promises to be plenty more to come from his improving yard - with Champagne Twist potentially a future Prestbury Park winner in the making.

Kielan Woods and Ben Jones are Pauling’s usual jockeys, with the latter having ridden Champagne Twist for his two wins with the former in the saddle for his first two hurdle efforts.

Champagne Twist Cost

Champagne Twist was originally bought for around £15,500 in 2021, but was moved on relatively quickly, before even contesting a race, by his then owners.

The son of Shantou was then sold for £60,000 at the Goffs UK Spring Sale in May 2023 and is now the sole horse owned by the Pour Decisions Syndicate.

He has almost repaid that investment already, earning £57,135 in his short career to date, with it looking increasingly likely with each run that he will surpass that price tag with his winnings by some way.

Champagne Twist Achievements

Champagne Twist’s hurdling career began in November 2023 with a fourth-placed run at Ascot which, given the circumstances, was a fair effort.

Second in that race has gone on to win since while even some of the huge-odds horses in behind Pauling’s mount have placed in subsequent runs. It was said after the effort that Champagne Twist had lost his right-hind shoe during the race, making the eventual fourth even more respectable.

That run was followed by a second at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day. The heavy ground that day did not seem to suit the gelding and he ended up finishing five lengths off the winner, but that did not discourage Pauling at all.

He went to Doncaster at the end of January and dominated a field of 11 to win by six-and-half-lengths and subsequently set up a go at the Novices’ Handicap Hurdle Final at Sandown.

That run came in early March and Champagne Twist duly justified his 11/2 price to narrowly beat stablemate Pic Roc and land the prize. He seemed to keep on well in that 2m4f win and it will be interesting to see what distances he is tried over next season.

Champagne Twist Future Aspirations

Pauling stated after his Doncaster win that ‘Champagne Twist was in at the deep end on his first two starts and ran very creditably. He's improved again… We bought him in May and he didn't do well physically, and he'll be a better horse when he gets a summer on his back’, highlighting the lofty ambitions the Cheltenham-based trainer holds for his gelding.

The fact that win came on good ground and his subsequent Novices’ Handicap Hurdle Final at Sandown came on soft suggests that there still be opportunities for the son of Shantou to boost his resume further this season, ahead of a big second year of his career next term.

Cheltenham could be on the agenda for Pauling, with his yard located just 20 minutes from Prestbury Park, and if Champagne Twist ends the season with the promise he has shown thus far and begins next term in the same form, expect him to be lining up at the Festival at this time next year.

This article was written by a partner sports writer via Spotlight Sports Group. All odds displayed on this page were correct at the time of writing and are subject to withdrawal or change at any time.

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