Cheltenham Festival 2011 

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Nigel Twiston-Davies Looks Forward to Cheltenham

Nigel Twiston-Davies is in a confident mood ahead of The Festival which starts in two weeks time.

Imperial Commander

Imperial Commander

He is expecting to saddle a team of 20-25 runners at Cheltenham over the best four days of the season - from Tuesday, March 15 to Friday, March 18.

The trainer said during a media visit to his Gloucestershire base near Naunton yesterday: “The horses all look absolutely fabulous - I am very pleased and everything is going right at the moment and let’s hope that carries on.

Imperial Commander seems brimming with health and happiness. He was in great shape last year and we cannot say he is better than that this year. I think it would be foolish to say that but he is in very good nick.

“I very much hope he can win the Cheltenham Gold Cup again - no hugely worrying horse has turned up on the scene and he has to take on the old guard again, and let’s hope he can do so successfully.

“The standard of the Gold Cup is high - they are good Gold Cups at the moment and if we can win then Imperial Commander will be up there with the best of all time.

“We have got the best horse in the country and it is nice to be able to say that. Last year we were forgotten and nobody thought we had a chance and so to win the Gold Cup was brilliant. Now I have the champion and he has to beat them all off again.

“We were confident last year and we are confident again this year because we are expected to win.

“Imperial Commander is bouncing now. He looks great and had a very good racecourse gallop the other day, and I am more than happy.

“He hasn’t got many miles on the clock and I don’t think 10 is very old. These French horses start racing at three and he was doing nothing until he was five. I don’t think age is a problem. He is not difficult to get fit - he needs a lot of work but is very honest, kind and gentle.

“I could not be happier and I don’t want to change anything. I was pleased with both his racecourse gallops - at Warwick and Kempton The Warwick one was probably better and he worked there with a lovely horse called Oscar Magic who subsequently won a Kempton bumper very easily. Jockeys are hopeless work riders as they think they have to win everything. Imperial Commander wasn’t going to beat a very fast horse over two miles.

“I fear the old brigade of Denman and Kauto Star more than Long Run and Diamond Harry but he beat them last year. He seems a worthy favourite as I cannot think of a horse who deserves to be in front of him. He will win.

Khyber Kim

Khyber Kim
“I have Khyber Kim who was second in last year’s Champion Hurdle and we hope he can go one better. He had muck on his lungs when he ran at Kempton - he has had treatment and come back really well. I think he is very much the forgotten horse. He is the second or third top-rated hurdler in the country. If anybody fancies a fiver each-way, he is the one. We have Baby Run, whom my boy Willie rides, in the Foxhunter. We have got a lot of good chances.”

Last year, Twiston-Davies was winnerless after the first three days of The Festival and getting nervous but ended the fourth day with three victories - Imperial Commander in the totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup, Baby Run in the Christie’s Foxhunter and Pigeon Island in the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase. Imperial Commander is 7/2 market leader with the sponsors for the 2011 totesport Gold Cup.

“It is going to be very hard to top that - we will be trying to as we want to win every race, not just three. To win the Gold Cup again would be just superb, while to take the Foxhunter again would be even better and let’s hope we can win the Champion Hurdle or another good race. I must not be too greedy and the handicaps are never easy. All my best chances seem to be on the last day again.

“I am very happy with both my boys - Sam and Willie - and they are doing well. I am a very proud dad - their riding never fails to amaze me - where did they get it from?

“Baby Run, at the age of 11, appears to be better than ever, while I think Sybarite is an exceptional horse - a big, imposing, really good-looking horse. We think the world of him and I think he has a very good chance in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle. He could be the next Imperial Commander.

Banjaxed Girl is an exceptional mare - she battles and battles and keeps coming back for more. I am very excited about her in the David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle and Sam gets on well with her, while Amber Brook deserves her chance in the same race and L’Accordioniste has only been beaten once when she wasn’t right and she has come back and I would expect a big run from her too.

Oscar Magic is a very nice horse and worked very well with Imperial Commander at Warwick. I hope he keeps improving after bolting up at Kempton. Maybe he is my Cue Card. He was a cheap horse from Ireland who has blossomed and just got better and better. I think he could be exceptional. You cannot get too excited after one run - but he has really had two runs - he beat Imperial Commander in the Warwick gallop and won from a Henderson hotpot at Kempton.

Major Malarkey must have a chance in the National Hunt Chase - the ground was too soft for him at Haydock.”



Stewart Family Spinal Research Handicap Chase: 1992 Tipping Tim

Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle: 1993 Gaelstrom, 2004 Fundamentalist

RSA Chase: 1993 Young Hustler

Stan James Supreme Novices’ Hurdle: 1994 Arctic Kinsman

JCB Triumph Hurdle: 1998 Upgrade

Pertemps Final Handicap Hurdle: 2000 Rubhahunish, 2008 Ballyfitz

Ryanair Chase: 2009 Imperial Commander

National Hunt Chase: 2009 Tricky Trickster

totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup: 2010 Imperial Commander

Christie’s Foxhunter Chase: 2010 Baby Run

Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Chase: 2010 Pigeon Island

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