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14 Feb 2011 | 19:15
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Commander back on dutyHeadlines
Imperial Commander

Hopes are high that Imperial Commander can make a rousing return in the Argento Chase at Cheltenham.

The 2010 Cheltenham Gold Cup hero has had his fair share of issues since last appearing in competitive action, which was when he pulled up in the 2011 blue riband.

Paul Costello, syndicate manager for his owners, Our Friends In The North, said: "Quite a lot of preparation has gone into getting him back and, as it gets closer, we are really counting down the hours. We are training him with an eye on the Gold Cup so no matter who turns up, we are confident of giving them a race."

Costello continued: "He's not run for nearly two years, but he's getting a lot of weight, so we are in a strong position.

"We know he takes a bit of time between his races, so this season we are trying to train him with more of a view to the Gold Cup as there is such a small gap between now and the Festival.

"His last couple of racecourse gallops have gone very well and he was spot-on in his last piece of work at Warwick. If he can run to 10lb of his top rating he'll be hard to beat at the weekend."

Keiran Burke is confident Hunt Ball is coming to the boil nicely as he builds up to the Gold Cup in March.

"The owner is very keen to go and we wanted to have a good test to see where we are for the Gold Cup. Nothing went right for him in the Paddy Power - the ground was very gluey, which he didn't like, and it was his first run of the season and we might not have had him as fit as we thought," said the Dorset trainer.

"He did a piece of work last week which was one of the best bits he's ever done."

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