Friday, November 16, 2012

Commander Gallop Thrills Brennan

Connections of the 2010 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Imperial Commander were both relieved and delighted by the way the star chaser came through a crucial racecourse gallop at Towcester that proved the old horse is ready to return to the fray in the Grade 1 Betfair Chase at Haydock Park on November 24, writes Elliot Slater.

When he defeated the great Denman by seven lengths to land the steeplechasing crown, it looked as though the sky was the limit for the gelded son of Flemensfirth.

However, after beating Tidal Bay in the Betfair Chase in November of that year, the Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained stayer suffered a minor injury before attempting to defend his title back at Cheltenham only to pull up lame after tailing off before the final fence.

Not seen in competitive action since March 2011 after sustaining a tendon injury, many people had doubted that the horse who won the 2008 Paddy Power Gold Cup and the 2009 Grade 1 Ryanair Chase would ever make it back to the racecourse.

Paddy Brennan, who partnered the popular chaser to his famous Gold Cup success, was a very happy man after putting the 11-year-old through a searching racecourse gallop at Towcester on Friday.

Brennan was quick to report to Imperial Commander’s owners, Our Friends in the North, and to his trainer that the veteran retains just about all his old ability and sees no reason why the winner of eight of his 19 races should not be given the chance to win back his Betfair Chase crown at Haydock.

As well as his 2010 victory in the race, few jumps fans will forget the horse’s stunning effort when failing by just a nose to defeat the mighty Kauto Star in one of the best races of the last decade in the same event 12 months earlier.

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