RACING: Gold Cup hero Imperial Commander earns honourable retirement

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard: Imperial Commander and his Naunton trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies Imperial Commander and his Naunton trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies

FORMER Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Imperial Commander, trained at Naunton by Nigel Twiston-Davies, has been retired after he was pulled up on his swansong in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury on Saturday.

Carrying the colours of the Our Friends In The North syndicate, the 12-year-old fulfilled every National Hunt owner's dream when winning at Cheltenham in March, 2010.

That race had been billed as a clash between Denman and Kauto Star, but Imperial Commander justified plenty of confidence in the Twiston-Davies stable when taking top honours in the hands of Paddy Brennan.

Twiston-Davies said: "He has run so many great races for us, and we'll always have that to remember him by."

Imperial Commander was restricted to just six more races, with his only other success after the Gold Cup coming in the Betfair Chase at Haydock in November, 2010.

He ran a total of 22 times, winning eight races and amassing more than £700,000 in prize-money.

On Saturday, Imperial Commander showed off his trademark powerful galloping and smooth jumping style and helped set the pace until dropping back through the field from the fifth-last fence.

Brennan said: "He gave me a great ride for a long way.”

Imperial Commander is expected take up retirement in Ireland and may, like another former top class chaser Kauto Star, try his hand at dressage.

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