NIGEL Twiston-Davies made history by becoming the first to train winners of all five races run over the National fences when Little Josh (7-2 favourite) landed the Betfred 'Goals Galore' Grand Sefton Handicap Chase at Aintree on Saturday.
Little Josh was completing a treble on the card for Naunton trainer Twiston-Davies who also won the featured Becher Chase for the second year running with Hello Bud and the novices' handicap hurdle with Master of the Sea. His son Sam rode all three.
In a war of attrition, Little Josh held Gansey by a length and three-quarters with both principals finishing very tired and only four completing the course.
Twiston-Davies senior said: "It's just incredible. Aintree is what jumping is all about. It's like dreamland coming up here with a 14-year-old and a ten-year-old and landing both races over the National fences." Hello Bud may be 14 but he proved that the flame still burned brightly. Brennan switched his mount to challenge at the top of the elbow but his mount couldn't pick up and it was the unexposed Join Together to throw down the strongest challenge.
The winning margin over Join Together in a thrilling renewal was just a neck with a length and a quarter back to Big Fella Thanks and Swing Bill who prevailed in a bunch finish for the minor placings.
The winning jockey said: "You would never believe he was 14 - it is a shame he is not actually eight. He is unreal. He just loves jumping. I cannot tell you how much this horse means to me. He means more than anything else. He is unbelievable."
"I love this horse more than anything else in the world - almost on a par with my mum and dad. Hello Bud is the best thing that has ever happened to our family and the best thing that has happened this season. His heart is so big, he jumps for fun and goes on any ground. He just keeps galloping. He was out on his feet in the last half-furlong and just kept digging in, digging in."
"I was nearly crying on the run-in - I was shouting and roaring at him. I could hear everyone coming at me and all of the crowd. He keeps sticking his head out. I can't believe how lucky I am to ride him." Twiston-Davies senior was just as emotional in his celebrations. "I do feel sorry for his ex-owner Seamus Murphy," he said. "He gave him to me for which I am very grateful."
"The run-in was just awful but thank goodness he hung on. As to the future, let's see. How can you really say retire when he obviously enjoys it so much? "He kept going all the way to the line and as he jumped round there, he looked like a horse who was having a nice time. He is 14 and some people say retire, retire, but when horses are as happy as him what can you do? Why should we put them out in the field?"
Twiston-Davies plans to give 2010 Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Imperial Commander an entry in the final John Smith's Grand National. The 11-year-old has been off the track since pulling up in his Gold Cup defence in 2011, when he burst a blood vessel.
He subsequently sustained a tendon injury but was due to make his comeback in the Betfair Chase at Haydock last month. However, a hind leg injury ruled him out of that race and he is now pencilled in to return at Cheltenham in the Argento Chase next month.
Twiston-Davies said: "If Imperial Com-mander shows he isn't quite as good as he was, then the National is the obvious thing. But we are hoping he is as good as he was. I have not spoken to his owners about the National yet. Imperial Commander is on the horse walker and swimming at the moment."