IMPERIAL COMMANDER will head straight back to Cheltenham in a bid to reclaim the Betfred Gold Cup following his fine effort in the Argento Chase.
The 12-year-old went agonisingly close to making a triumphant return when he was caught in the dying strides by Cape Tribulation on Saturday, in his first race since he was pulled up in the Gold Cup some 680 days earlier.
Trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies reported the 2010 Gold Cup hero to be in fine shape on Sunday morning and is looking forward to another crack at the blue riband in March.
"It was heartbreaking to see him mugged on the line, but yet again he showed all his doubters wrong. He can come back and hopefully is as good as ever," the Naunton handler said.
"He's 100 per cent, not a bother on him. It's a relief and in top-class races you always worry a little bit about injuries, but he's never had any horrendous injury. They have only been very minor, they just take time to mend. He goes straight to the Gold Cup.
"The bounce factor wouldn't worry me at all. Firstly it's nearly seven weeks so he can have a break now and we can get him back again.
"I'm not a great believer in bounce factors. I think all he can do is improve."
Malcolm Jefferson believes Cape Tribulation has earned the right to take his place in the Gold Cup after his win in the Argento.
The David Abell-owned gelding gave the North Yorkshire trainer one leg of a double at the Cheltenham Festival last year when winning the Pertemps Hurdle Final before going on to further success at Aintree.
And the nine-year-old left Jefferson with reason to be optimistic of a solid run in the Gold Cup when collaring Imperial Commander close home.
"He's grand, no problem. I thought Denis (O'Regan) gave him a great ride and it's nice to win a race like that. You have to enjoy those victories," said Jefferson.
"This horse has got a lot of guts and he's a very good horse on his day. He'll have a quiet week or two now, then we will go straight to Cheltenham.
"If you're not in, you can't win. I'm not saying he would win a Gold Cup, but he might just get placed in one.
"I've been talking to Phil Smith (head of handicapping at the British Horseracing Authority) and he says the horse is going to be up in the 160s now."