x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Imperial Commander wins Cheltenham Gold Cup

The less fancied winner stayed on strongly up the hill for trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies and jockey Paddy Brennan as Kauto Star errs at the eighth fence.

Imperial Commander stayed on strongly up the hill for trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies and jockey Paddy Brennan to land the totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup. The less fancied chance travelled powerfully all the way and with Kauto Star falling four fences out, only the 2008 Gold Cup winner Denman could stay with him on the turn for home. Imperial Commander was easily travelling the best of the two, however, and after going clear on the run to the last, he powered away on the run-in to win with seven lengths to spare. In a dramatic race, reigning champion Kauto Star ? chasing a hat-trick of Gold Cup successes ? made a horrendous mistake at the eighth fence and never really recovered.

Ruby Walsh began to get lower in the saddle a full circuit from home and looked beaten when coming to grief at the fourth-last. Thankfully, he soon rose to his feet. Fellow Paul Nicholls' inmate Denman travelled with zest towards the head of affairs under AP McCoy, but Imperial Commander was cantering all over him turning for home. Denman refused to go down without a fight, but Imperial Commander began to stamp his authority on the run to the last and passed the post with plenty in hand. Denman filled the runner-up spot for the second year in succession, while last year's Grand National winner Mon Mome finished strongly to finish third.

Brennan said: "It's by far the best day of my life. I'm speechless. It was a dream the whole way. "I've just got to take time to thank my boss (Twiston-Davies). He's the best boss ever - he's produced two horses this week (Imperial Commander and Champion Hurdle runner-up Khyber Kim) and I just had had to steer them." * PA Sport