Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Imperial Commander denied King George chance

William Hill

Tagged under: 3.20 Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup Steeple Chase 3m 2 1/2f

Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Imperial Commander will go straight to the Festival Meeting after the BHA denied him the opportunity to take on Kauto Star in the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Saturday 15 January.

Trainer Nigel-Twiston Davies hadn’t entered his ten-year-old champion for the original race due to the horse suffering from an infection, but hoped to supplement him when the race was re-scheduled after Kempton’s Boxing Day meeting was lost to the snow.

"We were hoping to go for the rearranged King George but they (the BHA) wouldn't allow us to put him in," the trainer told

"I think it's quite ridiculous that they haven't re-opened that race and the Christmas Hurdle.

"It helps us on one hand with Khyber Kim as no new horses come in to face him, but on the other hand it's not been constructive for Imperial Commander.

"If they had re-opened it at the six day stage then we could have supplemented Imperial Commander and we would have had a better race. It would have been much more exciting if he had been there.

"There's no rule they (the BHA) have to follow - they just didn't want that.

"It will be a much weaker race than it could have been," he added.

Kauto Star is odds-on favourite for a rather uncompetitive looking King George VI and race fans will be denied the mouth watering prospect of a head to head prequel between the two market leaders for the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

It was back in November that Imperial Commander last raced when winning from Tidal Bay in the Grade 1 Betfair Chase, but despite the interruption in preparations caused by the infection Twiston-Daves is pleased with his horse’s progress since.

"He's fine - 100%. There's a long time to go till the Gold Cup so we'll just wind him up slowly, there's no rush," he added.

Imperial Commander is 9/2 joint favourite with online bookmaker William Hill and Twiston-Davies was asked if he saw any threat emerging from the upcoming young chasers in the field.

He replied: "There's nothing that's worrying us too much at the moment. It's the same old ones that are the main dangers - Denman and Kauto Star.

"It will be fascinating to see how Kauto Star gets on at Kempton. We're all hanging on for that race next week now."

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