The New One: as short as 7-2 second-favourite with Coral for the NeptunePICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
The New One right up there with the best
NIGEL TWISTON-DAVIES has paid a huge compliment to his exciting novice hurdler The New One, rating the five-year-old "right up there" with the best he has trained.
Considering Twiston-Davies has tasted Gold Cup and Grand National success, that is high praise from the trainer, who showcased his Cheltenham Festival team during a media event at his Gloucestershire yard on Monday.
The New One, beaten just once in four starts over hurdles, is as short as 7-2 second-favourite with Coral for the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle but a stand out 9-2 with Boylesports.
"He's an exceptional horse, I think he could be very special. We've been lucky to have some special horses and he's right up there with them," said the trainer.
Looking back at his sole defeat over hurdles at Cheltenham in January, Twiston-Davies added: "He's obviously got a huge burst of speed. In hindsight we probably used it too soon last time."
Talking festival tactics, he said: "We'll see but he'll probably take it up before the last. There's no point sitting there until the last then making a mistake and losing it there. The ground cannot be as bad as it was at Cheltenham last time.
"I don't mind what Pont Alexandre does. It might be good if we can track him and overtake him if we're good enough. I don't really worry about the others. The New One's very, very impressive."
Nigel Twiston-Davies: says Imperial Commander has the best formPICTURE: John Grossick (racingpost.com/photos)
Twiston-Davies also gave backers of 2010 Gold Cup hero Imperial Commander plenty of reasons to smile, as he attempts to win back his crown at the age of 12.
"All has gone very smoothly and we couldn't be more happy. I want to give him a racecourse gallop somewhere this weekend and as you can see for yourselves he looks lovely," said the trainer.
He added: "His comeback was astonishingly good. If you had offered me that second I'd have been delighted because he'd had such a bad run up to it. He fractured a splint bone and he'd been swimming a lot but there's no substitute for cantering and he was not fit that day.
"He ran a superb race. People talk about his age but I don't see him being an awful lot worse than he was three years ago. He seems in very good nick. They're all very good horses but they haven't shown the form he has."
Imperial Commander is a best-priced 20-1 with Ladbrokes and Coral to become the first 12-year-old since What A Myth in 1969 to win the Gold Cup.
Don't miss Tuesday's Racing Post, for the latest news on all of Twiston-Davies's formidable Cheltenham Festival squad - available first on iPad from 8pm.