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Grand National Meeting 3rd - 5th April 2014 

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Could Commander become Oldest National Winner of Modern Era?
27/09/13

Not since Sergeant Murphy way back in 1924 has a 13-year-old chaser landed the world's greatest steeplechase, the Aintree Grand National, but there is a fair chance that the Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained Imperial Commander might have a crack at breaking that hoodoo in the 2014 renewal.

Imperial Commander
© Racehorse Photos

Imperial Commander

The brilliant winner of the 2010 Cheltenham Gold Cup, Imperial Commander has been plagued by one setback after another during his racing career.

The only upside of his series of setbacks is that the son of Flemensfirth has relatively few miles on the clock so, if his popular handler can keep him sound throughout the coming season, there would be a real temptation to let him take his chance at Aintree and prove his run in the big race back in April all wrong.

At Aintree last spring, the veteran was amongst the best-backed horses with betfair when sent off at just 11/1 to add the Grand National to his Gold Cup, Betfair Chase, Ryanair Chase, and Paddy Power Gold Cup victories. For much of the way it looked as though Sam Twiston-Davies might be about to pull off a sensational win, but after travelling powerfully through to the 19th fence the former champion dropped away quickly and was pulled up three fences later.

Imperial Commander is surely better than that and something must have gone amiss. Rated 158 for his last outing – some 27lbs below his highest rating – the evergreen chaser could prove well handicapped if he can be kept sound and overcome whatever ailed him after halfway in last term’s Grand National.

At 50/1 in some ante-post lists, there are certainly worse value long-term bets to consider, especially if wily old Nigel Twiston-Davies can conjure one more big effort out of his beloved stable star.

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