Cheltenham Gold Cup 2010 – Imperial Commander

The 2010 Cheltenham Gold Cup once again featured the Paul Nicholls-trained pair Kauto Star and Denman, who had won the last three renewals between them, plus Imperial Commander, winner of the Ryanair Chase at the 2009 Cheltenham Festival and beaten just a nose by Kauto Star in the Betfair Chase at Haydock on his reappearance in 2009/10.

Kauto Star was sent off odds-on favourite, at 8/11, as he attempted to win his second consecutive Gold Cup and his third in four years, but the writing was soon on the wall for the defending champion. A bad mistake at the eighth fence threw him out of his rhythm and, thereafter, jockey Ruby Walsh could not, by his own admission, ‘get him on an even keel’. The partnership finally parted company at the fourth-last fence, by which time Kauto Star was being driven along in fifth place and looked an unlikely winner.

Denman, ridden by A.P. McCoy, put in another bold, front-running display but, once tackled by Imperial Commander at the second-last fence, was always fighting a losing battle. To his credit, he finished tired, but was still 23 lengths clear of the third horse home, the 2009 Grand National-winner Mon Mome. Imperial Commander, though, was a worthy winner, taking up the running two out and being driven clear on the run-in to win, going away, by seven lengths.

Winning jockey Paddy Brennan said later, “It’s by far the best day of my life. I’m speechless. It was a dream the whole way.” Winning trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies was a little more bullish in his reflection on the race, saying, “It’s just absolutely brilliant. It’s been very hard for us sat there with the third-favourite when all the talk was about Kauto and Denman, but we always knew we were going to win.”

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