Commander all set
Nigel Twiston-Davies worked his big guns on the all-weather at Naunton ahead of what is probably the most important day of the season so far for the trainer.
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His fingers are tightly crossed that Cheltenham will beat the freeze for its hugely important trials day at the weekend.
That Saturday card, the last at Prestbury Park ahead of the Festival in March, would see rising star THE NEW ONE put his unbeaten record over jumps on the line, as well as heralding the return to racecourse action of former Gold Cup winner IMPERIAL COMMANDER.
The New One works as willingly at home as he gallops on the track, and the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle contender looked in fine fettle engaging in two spins up the steep Fibresand strip.
He is set to take in a race sponsored by the same company on Saturday, with Twiston-Davies reporting him to have come out of his recent Warwick win well and ready for more vital experience ahead of the Festival race.
Imperial Commander has delighted both Twiston-Davies and jockey Paddy Brennan in two racecourse gallops at Chepstow and Warwick.
His work at Warwick was more exacting and is believed to have brought home towards near concert pitch.
However, Twiston-Davies will have left something to work on and hopes that 'The Commander' will enjoy himself, come back sound and blow away a few of the inevitable cobwebs a lengthy absence from competitive action brings.
LITTLE JOSH may also take in the Argento Chase under trainer's son Sam.
The former Paddy Power Gold Cup winner has done well since his gritty triumph in the Grand Sefton Chase at Aintree.
The New One looks like being the sole hurdler in a team dominated by handicap chasers.
Veteran PIGEON ISLAND, a former Festival winner, MAD MOOSE and FRONTIER SPIRIT all moved well, while COOTEHILL and BILLIE MAGERN pleased in their work ahead of possible runs in Doncaster's Sky Bet Chase.