Willy Twiston-Davies: ‘Royal Ascot has the power to turn a bad year into a great one’ *H&H VIP*

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  • Winning at Royal Ascot is what you dream of as a Flat jockey and it was an unbelievable feeling to have my first win at the meeting on Thursday (16 June).

    The atmosphere is second to none, with a huge crowd there cheering you on. Royal Ascot is, of course, very special and it has the power to turn a bad year into a great one instantly for all involved — jockeys, trainers and owners.

    Coming home in front can be career-changing — of course you need to be on the right horse to win, but it was great to prove I can deliver on the big stage.

    I was very fortunate to be riding Primitivo for Alan King in the King George V and it was nice to help Alan claim his first Royal Ascot winner too.

    Alan has been a very loyal trainer to me. I ride out at his yard at Barbury Castle every Tuesday. He’s a brilliant trainer of both jump and Flat horses and always places horses so well in their races.

    He’s very laid-back and simply told me to “ride as I find” during the race because it was such a big field of 16 runners.

    Primitivo is a dream ride and very straightforward. I had won on him twice before, so I knew him well. He has an impressive turn of foot, which he displayed on Thursday and stayed really well over a mile-and-a-half.

    I sat him in mid-division during the race; it all went smoothly and I was able to produce him at the end with a clear run, having found room on the outside. I knew I had a chance on him but to win was something else.

    ‘I don’t miss the jumps’

    Words can’t describe the feeling of crossing the line in front at Royal Ascot, I was just trying to take it all in.

    It was nice to have my mum there to see my first win at the meeting. Sadly my dad, trainer Nigel, and my brother, jump jockey Sam, had to go racing at Ffos Las but they caught it on TV.

    I still keep an interest in jump racing through my dad and Sam, but I wouldn’t say I miss riding over fences any more. My focus now is very much on the Flat and I’m really keen on bloodstock and the pedigree of horses — I buy a few foals each year.

    Winning the Aintree Fox Hunters’ in 2011 will always be a highlight, but since my first win on the Flat for Richard Hannon aged 17, I haven’t looked back.

    Ref: Horse & Hound; 23 June 2016