Flat out speed will help Twiston-Davies' progress
JOHN Gallagher believes Willy Twiston-Davies will reap long-term benefits from riding on the Flat this summer.
Classic-winning trainer Richard Hannon announced in April the promising 17-year-old, then better known as a jump jockey, would be riding for him on the Flat this summer.
Gallagher said the move would help Twiston-Davies hone the skills which have already brought him success over jumps, notably for his dad Nigel in the 2011 Foxhunter's Chase at Aintree.
"When you look at the boys like Jim Crowley and Graham Lee now, they've ridden under different codes but when they've changed, it's the tactics as much as anything, about how to ride a race," said Gallagher.
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"The speed bit is irrelevant, it's where you are in a race.
"The likes of Jim and Graham know where to put themselves whether they're riding on the Flat or over jumps.
"Willy will be no different because he's ridden winners over jumps – he's done it all – so he'll have a good future ahead of him.
"Maybe his dad said to him, 'Look, while you can, go off and get some experience Flat racing-riding because when the weight does come on you, when you go back to the jumps it will stand you in good stead.'
"It makes your brain work a bit quicker because you're going that much faster on the Flat.
"I think riding in any different code helps.
"It will definitely help him, without a doubt."
Gallagher said Twiston-Davies, who has endured a series of injuries over jumps, had impressed him when he had ridden on the Flat for his stable in Chastleton, near Moreton-in-Marsh, this summer.
He expects the younger brother of leading jump jockey Sam to continue to improve with age and experience.
Gallagher said: "Willy's a good kid and he'll get stronger as he gets older because he's quite tall and quite lean, but he's ridden for enough of the big boys on the Flat so he can't be too bad now.
"He's still only young but he sits really well on a horse – he rode Soundbyte brilliantly for me.
"He's polite, he'll get better as he gets older and gains more experience, and I think he's definitely got a bright future.
"If he gets heavier he always got the jumps to fall back on, so I think he'll do quite well."
Gallagher said young jump jockeys in general should always consider a spell Flat racing, if they are offered the right opportunity.
He is also a firm believer that budding jockeys should compete in pony races from an early age, as Willy has done.
Gallagher said: "A lot of the young lads are too light for the jumps.
"They've only got to get one fence wrong, they got flung out of the saddle and they haven't got the weight to get back into it.
"I think the injuries also come into it, because you fall off enough times over jumps.
"That's not to say you don't fall off on the Flat, and you're going faster and it hurts just as much."
He added: "Willy did a lot of pony racing and I think that helps a lot of young lads.
"A lot of the time the kids should have some sort of pony racing academy-type thing which apprentices and conditionals have to come through and ride in pony races, just to give them the idea.
"Look at all the boys who have done pony racing, they're good lads.
"The young Irish lads, they know their job before they get on a horse and you can't use the excuse they're only apprentices because they will have had umpteen rides before they got there.
"I think it's a brilliant idea."