1st 16 Imperial Commander 13/2
The delighted trainer said: “My stable’s supposed to be out of form - we haven’t had a winner for two days!
“He jumps, he gallops, he’s everything. Paddy thinks he’s probably the best horse he’s ridden, which is quite something.”
Asked whether Imperial Commander, who had his season cut short by injury last year, was one of the best horses he’d trained, he said: “He has to be nudging up there with the best of them. If he keeps on like Tipping Tim then who knows.
“He goes back to Northern Ireland in the summer and the vets there did a good job. He just had a joint problem - the vets put it down to growing pains. He would have possibly have won the Royal & SunAlliance Chase at The Festival last season if we had been able to go for it. This was the plan then and it has worked.
“Let’s hope we can keep him sound and keep going. He’s entered in the King George and the Hennessy. If he finishes like that over two and a half miles on his first run you have to think he’s going to stay any distance. He’s got class, speed, he jumps, everything you want. It can’t be bad. There are nice things to think about.
”Paddy (Brennan - the winning rider) and I get on really well. I hoped Barbers Shop was not going to get to us - he had been off the course for some time. But mine was not stopping and has won well.”
Paddy Brennan commented: “That was a brilliant performance and I haven’t ridden a horse like this before. I’d like to especially thank Tony Evans who has made this horse at home and the boss Nigel.”
Imperial Commander is now a 7/1 chance (from 16/1) for the Hennessy and has also been priced at 16/1 for the Stan James King George VI Chase.
Paddy Power, spokesman for Paddy Power, said: “Imperial Commander was well fancied but he was a much better result than the strongly-backed favourite Silverburn who would have been a massive loser for us.”
Gillian Robinson, who runs the Our Friends In The North syndicate with her husband Ian, said: “We’re from all over. Ian and I are from Cumbria and some of the others are from the south and we’ve been together for about six years.
“We’ve had five or six different horses but this is without doubt the pinnacle. He’s a star and I don’t think I’ll ever come down from this.”
Ian added: “The fact I am crying probably gives away a bit of how I feel - it is just an mazing, amazing feeling.”
QUEEN’S RUNNER FINISHES A GALLANT SECOND
Barber Shop ran a gallant race to finish second, two and three quarter lengths behind Imperial Commander, in the Paddy Power Gold Cup.
Barry Geraghy, wearing Her Majesty The Queen’s colours, drove Barbers Shop after the winner and was still in contention at the last fence, but the concession of 3lb proved just too much.
“He’ll probably stay three miles, but the obvious race for him is back here next month [the £150,000 boylesports.com Gold Cup over two miles and five furlongs]. He might come on a bit for the run, but you can’t say he was blowing too much.”
Henderson also ran Fleet Street, who was pulled up in the first half of the race. The trainer said: “He downed tools after one fence, at least that’s what it looked like, but I can’t be sure until we check him out. He might as well have been pulled up after one.”
Private Be took third, 11 lengths behind the second, for Philip Hobbs’ stable as horses in the bottom half of the handicap dominated.
Barbers Shop could meet Private Be in the boylesports.com Gold Cup, after Hobbs nominated that race as his next target. Hobbs said: “He’s run a blinder, because just over a circuit out he hit a fence just a few feet high and the fence parted yet he hasn’t stopped. He did lose a few places and that didn’t help.
“Last season he had a breathing problem - a trapped epiglottis - but that’s been sorted out and so I hope to run him a bit more in future.”
2.35pm PADDY POWER GOLD CUP
1) IMPERIAL COMMANDER (IRE) (Our Friends In The North) Nigel Twiston-Davies 7-10-07 Paddy Brennan 13/2
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