Twiston-Davies fires Bullets to Champion Chase glory

The Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase was billed in some quarters as a duel between past winners Sprinter Sacre and Sire De Grugy but neither proved a match for improving Dodging Bullets.

Under a great ride from¬† Sam Twiston-Davies the 9/2 chance won by a length and a quarter from Somersby (33/1), with front-running Special Tiara (18/1) a length and three-quarters back in third. Last year’s winner, Sire De Grugy (5/2) was fourth, while former champion Sprinter Sacre (9/4 favourite) was pulled up.

“I know the other two were past champions but I couldn’t see why they were behind us in the betting, it must have been on sentiment,” said winning trainer Paul Nicholls.

“Dodging Bullets was the progressive young horse and it’s them that usually come out on top, he should have been favourite on form. He confirmed the Tingle Creek form with Somersby.

“He would have liked the ground a bit slower and I thought Sam (Twiston-Davies) gave him a fantastic ride. Sam is so much more confident this season, it all just takes a bit of bedding in but he’s been awesome this year. He rides really well and we’re all very fond of him.

“The horse won’t run again this season and I expect we’ll be dreaming all summer. The whole aim will be to come here again in a year’s time. We might take in the Tingle Creek along the way.

“The horse has always had breathing issues and we’ve run him three times with a tongue tie and three times he has won. Two years ago he ran a shocking race in the Supreme and we didn’t know why. Today’s win is so good for the whole team because we have had a few little issues with the horse. It takes forever to learn how to train these horses and we have got him right now. Harry Derham rides him every single day, knows him better than anybody and he will be made up.

“I never thought he was a Master Minded or an Azertyuiop but he’s winning the same races as they did now.

“It’s great for the whole team and great to win the Champion Chase again – I really love this race. We know where we are going with Dodging Bullets now and I expect the lads will be dreaming all summer. He is such a special horse to all the team that own him and I think it’s the first proper championship race winner that Tom Malone bought.”

Dodging Bullets was bred by Frankie Dettori and made just 8,000gns as a yearling when originally sold to race on the Flat with Andy Oliver in Ireland. He was subsequently bought privately by Tom Malone to join Nicholls.

Dettori was on hand to watch the race and said: “Sam gave him a fantastic ride – he jumped like a stag and was gutsy all the way to the line. He was bred to win the Derby but this is second best. It’s the equivalent of the 100m final at the Olympics and what a horse. You have to give credit to Dodging Bullets, he did all the work.

“He didn’t make very much as a yearling as his legs were pointing in the wrong direction although they got better with time

“I watched it with the owners and my legs were shaking a little bit walking down the steps, I was so excited. It’s completely different and unusual to have those feelings when I don’t have anything to do with it. I’m so pleased for Martin (Broughton, owner) and Paul.

“Sam was tactically very astute and gave the horse a great ride. I didn’t cheer too early but I did a bit once he’d pinged the second last. Riding is all about confidence and for a young man you’ve got to say that Sam is top-class

Dettori was wearing a blue three-piece suit and trilby and added: “I’ve been watching Mr (Rich) Ricci on television and thought I’d give him a run for his money! Barry Hills gave me the trilby and told me that if I didn’t wear it he wanted it back.”

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