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Six of the best who will be on Trial at Cheltenham

By The Citizen  |  Posted: January 24, 2013

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Festival Trials Day has the potential to raise hopes and shatter dreams as top-class horses from around the country do battle at Prestbury Park.

Racing editor Jonathan Herbert focuses on six of the best horses trained in Gloucestershire with a big day ahead of them.

CRACK AWAY JACK

After losing his way last season, Crack Away Jack has enjoyed a new lease of life since joining Tom George from champion trainer Paul Nicholls and is now a genuine contender for the Ladbrokes World Hurdle.

George has masterminded a reversal of fortunes after the nine-year-old seemed to have lost his appetite for racing, a run which culminated in him being pulled up at the Festival in what proved to be his final race for Nicholls.

George was handed the job of getting Crack Away Jack's once promising career back on track and he enjoyed virtually instant results.

Fitting a tongue-tie and sending him back over hurdles, the Slad-based trainer saddled Crack Away Jack to finish second to Big Buck's at the Grand National meeting at Aintree, his best showing for some time.

Crack Away Jack showed the Aintree run was no flash in the pan by finishing second again in two top hurdle races at Wetherby and Cheltenham.

He has the chance to hammer home his World Hurdle credentials in the Rewards4Racing Cleeve Hurdle on Festival Trials Day.

IMPERIAL COMMANDER

Age caught up with even the great Muhammad Ali eventually and it remains to be seen how much Nigel Twiston-Davies' stable star has left to offer after turning 12 and spending nearly two years out of action through injury.

History suggests he is unlikely to become only the second horse, after Kauto Star, to regain the Gold Cup and also become the first winner aged 12 since What A Myth in 1969.

The vibes from the stable are positive ahead of his comeback run in the Argento Chase, however, and there would be no more popular winner at Prestbury Park.

MODULE

The six-year-old looks sure to go well in the Timeform Novices' Handicap Chase after making a big impression in three runs for Tom George.

He got off the mark in style with an easy win over hurdles at Prestbury Park in January but missed the Festival because George didn't feel he was quite ready.

He fell when going well on his chasing debut at Exeter but won easily next time out at Newbury, confirming himself as a horse to follow.

MR WATSON

Bought for £215,000 in the spring, he got off the mark for Jonjo O'Neill at the third time of asking in a low-key hurdle race at Plumpton.

He had arrived at Jackdaws Castle after winning a point-to-point and finishing a close third in top bumper race in Ireland.

The headgear he wore for the first time at Plumpton underlines that he is far from a straightforward ride, having unseated champion jockey AP McCoy going down to the start of his planned debut.

But he has enormous potential and has the chance to take another big step forward in the Pertemps Hurdle.

THE NEW ONE

Is there a more exciting hurdler or chaser in the county?

His record for Nigel Twiston-Davies so far suggests the answer is a resounding 'no' heading into potentially the biggest test of his career in the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle.

He hasn't broken sweat to win at Newton Abbot, Cheltenham and Warwick this season and sets a high standard.

WAYWARD PRINCE

Owner and trainer Hilary Parrott deserves a huge amount of credit for turning the nine-year-old's flagging fortunes around.

The former top novice chaser was below his best with Ian Williams last term, but the move to Parrott's stable in Redmarley has reignited his career.

He ran his best race for ages to finish second at Wetherby on his first run for Parrott and then won for the first time in nearly two years at Aintree last month.

He must raise his game again to win the Argento Chase, but whatever the outcome he is already one of this season's major success stories.

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