Grand National 2017 Fact Files
Saphir Du Rheu
Saphir Du Rheu (FR) 8-11-04
Breeding: gr g Al Namix – Dona Du Rheu (Dom Pasquini)
Breeder: Claude Duval
Born: April 26, 2009
Owner: The Stewart Family
Trainer: Paul Nicholls
Jockey: Sam Twiston-Davies
*Easy 15-length winner of the Ivan Straker Memorial Chase at Kelso in February, 2017.
*Most impressive performance so far came in the 2015 G1 Mildmay Novices’ Chase at Aintree when defeating Carraig Mor by 15 lengths.
*Trainer won Grand National with another grey Neptune Collonges in 2012, the first grey to triumph since Nicolaus Silver in 1961.
Jump race record: Starts: 27; Wins: 9; 2nd: 2; 3rd: 3; Win & Place Prize Money: £334,499
The Stewart Family
The Stewart Family comprises husband and wife Andy and Judy Stewart, and their two sons, Mark and Paul. The latter broke his back in a snowboarding accident in December, 2008, but has made tremendous progress to walk again and the family have sponsored several races at Cheltenham, including the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival and the December Gold Cup for the benefit of Spinal Research. Andy Stewart, born on August 15, 1951 in Romford to parents who were both doctors, went to Felsted School in Essex and bunked off to go point-to-pointing at Marks Tey. He also hitchhiked to Liverpool to attend the Grand National Festival. He began work aged 17 in the fixed-interest department of Simon & Coates, progressing to be a senior partner at that stockbroking firm. He became chief executive of Chase Manhattan Securities when it took over Simon & Coates. Stewart co-founded broker Collins Stewart in 1991 and was executive deputy chairman when it floated on the Stock Exchange worth £326 million in 2000 before leaving the business in 2003. He then founded Cenkos Securities, named after his first top-class racehorse, but stepped down in 2010. Cenkos won 15 races and over £500,000 in prize money and was twice third in the Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. Stewart is now chairman of Ravenscroft Limited (formerly Cenkos Channel Islands) which has offices in Guernsey and Jersey. He is also a major shareholder in the CHAPS Restaurants, Barbados, where he has a home. Racing interests: Andy was first involved with ownership in 1986 and the family enjoyed the first of six Cheltenham Festival successes when Celestial Halo won the JCB Triumph Hurdle in 2008. Outstanding staying hurdler Big Buck’s became the first horse to win four renewals of the Stayers’ Hurdle in 2012 and broke Sir Ken’s record by winning his 17th consecutive race over jumps in the G1 Liverpool Hurdle at the 2012 Grand National Festival.
Randox Health Grand National Record: 2007 Le Duc (UR 6th); 2008 Turko (Fell 25th); 2009 My Will (3rd); 2010 My Will (Fell 4th); 2011 Ornais (Fell 4th); 2012 Tatenen (UR 8th); 2013 Tatenen (Fell 12th); 2014 Rocky Creek (5th), 2015 Rocky Creek (17th); 2016 Rocky Creek (PU 12th)
Paul Nicholls (Manor Farm Stables, Ditcheat, Somerset)
Born: April 17, 1962 at Lydney, Gloucestershire Background: The son of a policeman, he grew up in Olveston. He started riding in point-to-points after leaving school at 16 and worked for a couple of yards before becoming a conditional jockey with Sussex-based Josh Gifford for two years and then joining Devon trainer David Barons. He partnered 133 winners between 1980 and 1989, with his biggest British successes coming in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury on Broadheath (1986) and Playschool (1987), who also won the Irish Gold Cup with Paul up in 1988. Having struggled to keep his weight down, he retired from riding in 1989 and assisted Barons, trainer of not only Broadheath and Playschool but also Seagram, who won the 1991 Grand National at Aintree during Nicholls’ time at the stable. Nicholls took out his own licence to train at Manor Farm Stables in Ditcheat on November 1, 1991, with just eight horses and has come a long way since. Manor Farm Stables, which has been expanded, is the main yard, with Highbridge the second yard just outside the village. Daughter Megan is an apprentice jockey on the Flat with 21 winners (up to March 23). Achievements: 10-time champion Jump trainer (2005/06, 2006/07, 2007/08, 2008/09, 2009/10, 2010/11, 2011/12, 2013/14, 2014/15, 2015/16) and became the first handler to accrue more than £4 million in a season in 2007/08. He gained his 2,000th winner at Down Royal on November 5, 2011, less than 20 years after taking his licence, making him the fastest Jump trainer to reach the landmark figure. Has sent out 41 winners at the Cheltenham Festival and is the third most successful trainer ever there. His successes include victories in the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase (1999 Call Equiname, 2004 Azertyuiop, 2008 & 2009 Master Minded, 2015 Dodging Bullets), Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup (1999 See More Business, 2007 & 2009 Kauto Star, 2008 Denman) and the Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle (Big Buck’s 2009, 2010, 2011 & 2012). He also won the Stan James Champion Hurdle with Rock On Ruby in 2012. At Aintree, he has captured the Grand National with Neptune Collonges in 2012 and sent out Big Buck’s for four consecutive victories (2009 to 2012) in the Grade One Ryanair Stayers’ Hurdle. He has been leading trainer at the Randox Health Grand National Festival three times – in 2008, 2011 & 2015. He is fighting for his 11th Jump trainers’ championship this season. He has sent out in total over 2,700 winners, including 112 at Grade One level (up to March 30).
Randox Health Grand National Record: 1992 Just So (6th); 1996 Vicompt De Valmont (10th), Deep Bramble (PU 29th), Brackenfield (UR 19th); 1997 Straight Talk (FELL 14th); 1998 What A Hand (FELL 1st), Court Melody (FELL 6th), General Crack (PU 11th); 1999 Strong Chairman (15th), Double Thriller (FELL 1st), 2000 Earthmover (FELL 4th), Torduff Express (FELL 13th), Flaked Oats (FELL 20th), Escartefigue (UR 30th); 2001 Earthmover (FELL 4th); 2002 Murt’s Man (PU 17th), Ad Hoc (BD 27th); 2003 Montifault (5th), Fadalko (UR 6th), Ad Hoc (UR 19th), Shotgun Willy (PU 22nd), Torduff Express (UR 27th); 2004 Exit To Wave (PU 9th); 2005 Royal Auclair (2nd), Heros Collonges (8th), L’Aventure (15th), Ad Hoc (FELL 22nd); 2006 Royal Auclair (FELL 1st), Le Duc (UR 8th), Silver Birch (FELL 15th), Heros Collonges (UR 15th), Le Roi Miguel (PU 19th), Cornish Rebel (PU 19th); 2007 Le Duc (UR 6th), Royal Auclair (FELL 9th), Eurotrek (PU bef 22nd), Thisthatandtother (PU 30th); 2008 Cornish Sett (12th), Turko (FELL 25th), Mr Pointment (PU 30th); 2009 My Will (3rd), Big Fella Thanks (6th), Cornish Sett (17th), Eurotrek (PU 17th); 2010 Big Fella Thanks (4th), Tricky Trickster (9th), My Will (FELL 4th), Nozic (UR 20th); 2011 Niche Market (5th), Ornais (FELL 4th), The Tother One (FELL 6th), What A Friend (PU 27th); 2012 NEPTUNE COLLONGES (WON); 2013 Join Together (12th), What A Friend (PU 19th), Harry The Viking (PU 26th); 2014 Rocky Creek (5th), Hawkes Point (18th), Tidal Bay (UR 8th); 2015 Mon Parrain (11th), Rocky Creek (17th), Rebel Rebellion (PU 26th), Unioniste (Fell 5th); 2016 Unioniste (10th), Just A Par (15th), Rocky Creek (PU 12th), Silviniaco Conti (PU 14th), Wonderful Charm (PU 21st), Black Thunder (PU 21st)
Born: October 15, 1992 Background: Sam Twiston-Davies was still studying for AS-level exams at school in Gloucestershire when he had both his first Cheltenham Festival winner and first Grand National ride. The son of trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies and his divorced wife, Cathy, (who both rode as amateurs), Sam was successful in pony racing before starting in point-to-points in the 2008/09 season when becoming eligible at the age of 16. Within a few weeks, on December 28, 2008, he rode his first winner between the flags, taking a race at Cottenham in Cambridgeshire on Grenfell, trained by his mother. At Ludlow on February 18, 2009, he scored his first success under Rules when partnering Baby Run, owned and trained by Nigel, to victory in a hunter chase. A career that was bound to flourish gained added lift through Baby Run, for he and Sam went on to finish third in the following month’s Foxhunter Chase at the 2009 Cheltenham Festival and later gained one of the season’s biggest prizes in the Champion Hunters’ Chase at the Punchestown Festival. Sam and Baby Run capped that in March, 2010, when returning to Cheltenham and the easy winner of the Foxhunter Chase at The Festival. Sam then went to Aintree and partnered Hello Bud into fifth on his Grand National debut. He turned professional shortly afterwards. Sam partnered Hello Bud to victory in the 2010 Betfred Becher Handicap Chase over the Grand National course. Twiston-Davies rode his father’s The New One to win the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle at The Cheltenham Festival in 2013. In the summer of 2014, he was appointed stable jockey to Paul Nicholls. He has partnered over 750 winners, with his best season coming in 2014/2015 (145 wins). He has had seven Cheltenham Festival winners and is an ambassador at Aintree Racecourse. Big-Race Wins include: Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase (2015 Dodging Bullets), Grande Course de Haies d’Auteuil (2016 Ptit Zig), Scottish Grand National (2016 Vicente), Weatherbys Champion Bumper (2016 Ballyandy), Mildmay Novices’ Chase (2015 Saphir Du Rheu), Anniversary 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle (2015 All Yours), Tingle Creek Chase (2014 Dodging Bullets), Aintree Hurdle (2014 The New One), Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle (2013 The New One).
Randox Health Grand National Record: 2010 Hello Bud (5th); 2011 Hello Bud (PU 29th); 2012 Hello Bud (7th); 2013 Imperial Commander (PU 22nd); 2014 Tidal Bay (UR 8th); 2015 Rock Creek (17th), 2016 Wonderful Charm (PU 21st)