Beltfair Chase: Imperial Commander Hot Favourite

It’s the £200,000 Grade One Betfair Chase Day at Haydock and Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Imperial Commander is among the seven horses bidding to win the race on the afternoon of Saturday, November 20.

Kauto Star stole the race by a literal nose from Imperial Commander a year ago, Postager and with last year’s winner not there to defend his title Imperial Commander is an overwhelming favourite to win the three-mile chase, this time around. The horse is returning after a seven month break and his freshness will make him hard to beat.

Kauto Star will be missing this race for the first time in five years. Paul Nicholls, the traner of Kauto Star, is said to be preserving him for a possibe fifth consecutive win at Boxing Day’s King George VI Chase.

Paul Nicholls will have another horse trained by him in What A Friend, TheRussia taking part in the Betfair Chase on the first day of the Northwest Masters at Haydock Park. What A Friend ridden by Sam Thomas could be the surprise packet. Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is part owner of the horse which won the Totesport Bowl in April this year. What A Friend was the winner ina couple of Grade One races last season, namely, the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown, Theunroll and Aintree’s Totesport Bowl.

Imperial Commander is also likely to face stiff competition from Nacarat and Planet of Sound. The other horses in the fray are Atouchbetweenacara, Tidal Bay and Chief Dan George. Thecorrectly

Imperial Commander was trained in Gloucestershire at Nigel-Twiston-Davies’s. The yard also had their horse win the big race at Cheltenham last weekend. Nigel’s son Sam rode Little Josh to victory in the Paddy Power Gold Cup. But Imperial Commander will be ridden by veteran Paddy Brennan.

It was Brennan who rode Imperial Commander to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup nine months ago. Denman came in second while Kauto Star couldn’t stay in the reckoning. According to Twiston Davies, Nationlogy the nine-year old Imperial Commander is at peak fitness and is expected to do much better than last year. However, Davies also admitted the pressure of expectation that went with traning an overwhelming favourite.

Planet of Sound is coming here on the back of a Guiness Gold Cup win at Punchestown, a rare bright spot in a mediocre 2009-10 season. While not expecting the horse to win at Haydock, trainer Philip Hobbs expects the horse to do well. Nacart won Wetherby’s Charlie Hall Chase and that facile win should make trainer Tom George optimistic of a good showing by his horse, Thegreatly at Haydock.


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