Aintree hope for Imperial
Imperial Commander worked poorly yesterday morning and a subsequent vet check uncovered a lung infection, which has ruled the gelding out of the Cheltenham Gold Cup next week.
However, it is not the end of his season, according to Nigel Twiston-Davies.
"Hopefully, it's just a little blip, and we can take him to Aintree next month," the trainer reported. Twiston-Davies said it had been a combination of old-fashioned observation and modern technology that had detected Imperial Commander's problem.
"He didn't work well, so we took a trachea wash, which showed the infection. I'm glad we found out when we did. It would have been unfair on the horse to have run him when he wasn't right. We'll check him again before his next run. We have the technology," he explained.
Imperial Commander won the 2010 Gold Cup with a fine performance. He recently returned to racing after a lengthy lay-off and finished a game second to Cape Tribulation in the Argento Chase at Cheltenham in January. The trainer is optimistic he can get the gelding back to a competitive level against the best chasers.
Philip Hobbs reported Captain Chris in fine fettle following his final piece of serious work prior to his engagement in the Gold Cup. "He worked with Wishfull Thinking and pleased me. If the ground is on the good side, I think he will run very well. He may be well over the odds," Hobbs said.
Trainer Colin Tizzard has announced that Cue Card will be declared for both the Ryanair Chase and the Queen Mother Champion Chase next week. If he declares and then withdraws, connections are liable to a fine based on a percentage of the prizemoney.
Tizzard is playing safe in case, for any reason, hot favourite Sprinter Sacre does not make the line-up for the Queen Mother. "I'm not wishing him any harm, but things can go wrong with horses and without him in the race, Cue Card would be suited," the trainer stated.
Cue Card is a brilliant type and, in a past era, he would have been forced to have a crack at Sprinter Sacre. But now with extra options, Tizzard is doing the right thing by his owners and himself.
David Pipe expressed satisfaction with Grands Crus after he completed a racecourse gallop following the meeting at Exeter yesterday.
The eight-year-old grey has had an interrupted campaign and was pulled up in the Argento Chase at Cheltenham in January on his last start. But he reportedly showed his well-being at the Devon track in the hands of Tom Scudamore.
Grands Crus, which still holds entries in the Ryanair Chase and the Ladbrokes World Hurdle, worked alongside the Tom Bellamy-ridden Zaynar.
Pipe tweeted: "Grands Crus galloped at Exeter. He was keen and worked well, both myself and Tom Scu pleased with him – no decision about Cheltenham just yet."
On His Own could continue his public preparation for the Aintree Grand National with a run at Naas on Sunday. The nine-year-old, which is ante-post favourite in many books for the Aintree spectacular on April 6, is among 21 entries for the Woodlands 100 Club Leinster National Handicap Chase.
Owned by Graham Wylie and trained by Willie Mullins, On His Own had his first run since falling in last year's National when winning over hurdles at Navan last month.
Other National possibles also in the Naas race are Rare Bob, Tarquinius and Oscar Time, while a strong entry includes Ballinahow Lady, Glenquest, Panther Claw and Rich Revival. (© Daily Telegraph, London)