Gold Cup and Grand National-winning trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies will be hopeful he has another star on his hands, as his mare Smiling Getaway made it two-from-two in her career over hurdles with a victory at Warwick.
It was very much a family affair, with Sam Twiston-Davies doing the steering, as he did at Ludlow on stable bow before Christmas.
The Twiston-Davies' will be hoping the mare has plenty more to offer and Smiling Getaway is one to keep an eye on as she aims for further progress.
Nigel Twiston-Davies is one of Britain's best-known National Hunt trainers. The 66-year-old is based at Naunton in Gloucestershire, with Cheltenham on his doorstep.
He has 17 Cheltenham Festival winners on his CV, highlighted by Imperial Commander landing the Gold Cup in 2010 under Paddy Brennan.
His longevity is highlighted by his first Festival winner, Tipping Tim in 1992, and his most recent, Blaklion, in the Brown Advisory Novices' Chase in 2016.
He has many Grade 1 wins to his credit, including Bristol De Mai winning three Betfair Chases at Haydock, while the Aintree Grand National wins of Earth Summit (1998) and Bindaree (2002) were career highlights.
His son, Sam, is one of the top riders in Britain over jumps and is often found partnering the leading lights from the yard. Willy also rode for a time before hanging up his boots in 2017. He confirmed recently that he will be added to the license next season, subject to the completion and approval of the necessary paperwork.
Owners James & Jean Potter of Potter Group, a Welsh-based Waste Management company, have held a long and distinguished interest in the equestrian field and, in particular, National Hunt horses.
Potter Group's roster currently includes 25 racehorses, each competing nationally and trained by some of the country's most accomplished trainers. At this point, Smiling Getaway looks their most exciting prospect.
Donnchadh Doyle picked up Smiling Getaway for €52,000 at the Tattersalls Ireland Sales in August 2020 and she joined his yard in Co Wexford, an operation that has produced the likes of Monbeg Dude, Holywell, Topofthegame, Bravemansgame and Monkfish.
After winning an Irish point-to-point at Loughanmore in October 2021, she was bought for £235,000 by the Potter Group.
She was originally sent to Dan Skelton, for whom she ran once, finishing fourth in a Southwell bumper in January 2023.
Having moved to the Twiston-Davies team, Smiling Getaway debuted over timber at Ludlow (2m5f, soft) in December 2023 where she beat the Nicky Henderson-trained Between Waters in second spot.
She met another Seven Barrows inmate, Break My Soul, at Warwick (2m3f, soft) and despite carrying a 7lb penalty for her December win, Smiling Getaway was too strong for Nico de Boinville's mount as she came home eight-lengths in front, more than confirming the promise shown on her hurdling debut success.
Connections were understandably thrilled with the win at Warwick on Monday. The Potters' social media channel has already pinpointed the Grade 2 Jayne Seymour Mares' Novice' Hurdle at Sandown in February as their next target.
That will certainly require another step forward if Smiling Getaway is to remain unbeaten over hurdles.
However, it's a rise in class very much worth taking, as the Sandown contest has been won in the last two seasons by Love Envoi for trainer Harry Fry and You Wear It Well for Jamie Snowden – both of which came out a month later to win the Dawn Run Mares' Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
A victory at Sandown next month could therefore pave the way for Smiling Getaway to try and bid to end her trainers' wait for a Festival winner at Cheltenham, which now dates back to 2016, making it the longest gap in Twiston-Davies' career since he won his first Festival race in 1992.
Smiling Getaway is sired by Getaway, a Coolmore National Hunt stallion based at Grange Stud in Fermoy, Co Cork.
The mare was bred by Rowland Crellin out of a homebred full-sister to top chaser In Compliance.
Getaway's top performers include Sporting John, winner of the Grade 1 Scilly Isles Novices' Chase for Philip Hobbs and a three-mile Listed Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham, as well as the Nicky Henderson mare Verdana Blue – winner of the Grade 1 Christmas Hurdle at Kempton as well as the Elite Hurdle at Wincanton and the Scottish Champion Hurdle.
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