Imperial Commander will be defending his Gold Cup crown at the Cheltenham Festival at the end of the month. (credit: Carine06)
With just thirteen days to go until the 2011 Cheltenham Festival some of the sport’s leading trainers are putting the finishing touches to the preparations of their stable stars and it appears that some are enjoying the media whirlwind more than others.
Twelve months ago Nigel Twiston-Davies was left wondering why nobody was particularly interested in the third favourite for the Totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup and the trainer was working quietly behind the scenes as journalists sent punters into a frenzy over the rivalry between Kauto Star and Denman.
One year on and the handler must look back on the ignorance of the press with some fondness as he continues to defend the preparations of reigning champion Imperial Commander. Speaking on Tuesday, Twiston-Davies appeared full of confidence despite his superstar’s interrupted campaign and left punters in no uncertainty as to what he believed the result would be in this year’s Gold Cup.
"If he finishes third this year, I'm going to have a lot of explaining to do. But he won't finish third. He'll win,” he explained.
Twiston-Davies’ confidence will be of great reassurance to supporters of the favourite, but while Imperial Commander was lighting up the Cotswolds with seemingly sparkling canters, Kauto Star fanatics were continuing to send the bookies ducking for cover after the more romantic Cheltenham punters reacted to Paul Nicholls’ tweet: “Kauto and Ruby. . . Match made in heaven!”
There will be plenty of racing fans desperate to see Kauto Star bound up the Cheltenham hill and secure his place in the history books once and for all, but try telling Twiston-Davies that the race is at the mercy of Nicholls’ dual Gold Cup hero and a lap of honour awaits the legendary chaser.
"We've got the best chaser in the country. If Imperial Commander wins again, he'll be one of the greats – and I think he deserves to be,” he reiterated.
Just over two weeks until Imperial Commander has the chance to answer his critics in the best way possible.