IMPERIAL COMMANDER (IRE) FACTFILE
9 b g Flemensfirth (USA) - Ballinlovane (Le Moss)
Form under rules: 146173/114/161-P251
Owner: Our Friends In The North
Breeder: Laurence Flynn
The stable star of the Nigel Twiston-Davies yard, Imperial Commander was an emphatic eight-length winner on his only point-to-point at Summerhill in April 2005. He made his debut for Nigel Twiston-Davies at Cheltenham in October 2006, when he posted a convincing eight-length victory in an extended two mile bumper. He returned to Prestbury Park for The Open the following month but could only finish fourth to Massini's Maguire in a novice hurdle and made a third consecutive appearance on the course the following month when taking sixth in a grade two novices hurdle at the Boylesports International. He gained his first success over hurdles in January 2007, recording a convincing 18 length verdict in a novices' contest at Newcastle. Imperial Commander ended his season with two pleasing efforts in Grade One company coming seventh in the Ballymore Properties Novices' Hurdle at The Festival and third in the Sefton Novices Hurdle at Aintree in April. He made just three appearances in the 2007/08 campaign, all at Cheltenham, including an all-the-way success in a beginners' chase at The Showcase and another front running victory in a novice contest at The Open. He failed to complete a hat-trick of victories when trailing home last of four in another novice contest at The Boylesports International. Growing pains forced Imperial Commander to miss the rest of the season but he returned to Cheltenham for his first start of the 2008/09 term, making his handicap debut in the Grade Three Paddy Power Gold Cup. Making his official mark of 139 look generous, Imperial Commander powered to a two and three quarter length victory over Barbers Shop with a further 11 lengths back to the third home, Private Be.
Imperial Commander failed to give his true running on his next start in the Grade One King George VI Chase at Kempton Park, coming home sixth behind Kauto Star, but proved himself to be a chaser of the highest order with a stunning two-length victory over Voy Por Ustedes in the Grade One Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. On his latest start on April 29, Imperial Commander failed to cope with the soft to heavy ground in the Punchestown Gold Cup and was pulled up by Paddy Brennan before the final fence. He reappeared in the Grade One Betfair Chase at Haydock Park on November 21 and ran magnificently, just failing to beat Kauto Star by a nose when rallying gamely on the run-in. His next outing in the Grade One William Hill King George VI Chase at Kempton Park on Boxing Day was a disappointment. Taking on Kauto Star again, he made a mistake at the second and was always struggling, finishing the 64 length fifth to his main rival. But nearly three months later, on Friday, March 19 in the totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup, there was sweet revenge, with Kauto Star the horse making a mistake before falling four out and Imperial Commander winning the battle with Denman, Kauto Star's stable companion, to win chasing's championship race going away by seven lenghts under regular rider Paddy Brennan.
Race Record under rules: Starts: 16; 1st: 7; 2nd: 1; 3rd: 1;
Win & Place Prize Money: £572,038
(All statistics and details as of March 2010, post Gold Cup)