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Imperial Commander 26/01/2013

Imperial Commander (left) finished second in the Argento Chase

  PICTURE: Mark Cranham (  

Commander 'can only improve' for Argento run

IMPERIAL COMMANDER proved his doubters wrong again on Saturday according to his trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies who believes his 2010 Gold Cup winner can only improve for his comeback effort in the Argento Chase.

Owned by the Our Friends In The North syndicate, Imperial Commander showed he retained all of his old zest and fight when only getting collared yards from the line by Cape Tribulation at Cheltenham, having not raced for 680 days due to injury.

A tendon problem and then a small fracture in his off-hind had kept Imperial Commander off the track since being pulled up in the 2011 Gold Cup - having broken blood vessels - but he was reported to be in top shape on Sunday morning despite missing  shoe.

And Twiston-Davies now plans to send his 12-year-old straight for the Gold Cup at the Cheltenham Festival with no concerns about the horse performing poorly on his second run after a long layoff.

Nigel Twiston-Davies with Imperial Commander March 1, 2011

Nigel Twiston-Davies: no concerns about 'bounce' on horse's next run

  PICTURE: Getty Images  

He said: "He yet again proved all his doubters wrong and proved he can comeback and hopefully be as good as ever. He's 100 per cent today. Not a bother on him.

"The plan is to go straight to the Gold Cup. The 'bounce' wouldn't worry me at all. A - it's six and a half, nearly seven weeks, until the race and he can have a bit of a break and get him back and B - I'm not a big believer in 'bounce factors' anyway. All I think he can do is improve."

No 12-year-old has won the Gold Cup since 1969 but Twiston-Davies feels the age will prove no barrier.

"The dream lives on," Twiston-Davies said on At The Races. "Hello Bud was just a few days short of 15 when he ran the best race of his life and Kauto Star was just a few days short of his 12th birthday when he won his fifth King George so let's not get too bogged down on age."

Imperial Commander, who will have a John Smith's Grand National entry according to Twiston-Davies, is a 20-1 chance for the Gold Cup.

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