The betting world has been left in a spin after Imperial Commanders (7-1) surprise win of the Gold Cup, giving trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies a third victory in a Gold Cup - his first was with Tipping Tim in the then-Mackeson Gold Cup in November 1992 and his second was with Imperial Commander in the Paddy Power Gold Cup in November 2008 when jockey Paddy Brennan commented that Imperial Commander 'is the best chaser I have ridden.' Well maybe we should have all listened to him! Paddy Brennan said straight after his 2010 Gold Cup win: 'It's by far the best day of my life. I'm speechless. It was a dream the whole way.'
The whole surprise of the win was the fact that the race had been built up to the point of hysteria due to the perceived competition between main contenders Kauto Star and Denman - this Cheltenham Gold Cup race was being billed as one of the great contests in modern racing, a match that was being compared to the encounter between Arkle and Millhouse in 1964. Pent Shed HaydockWhat made the race even more exciting was the fact that the two major runners were both from the Paul Nicholls stable and Denman had won the Gold Cup previously in 2008, while Kauto Star was going for his third win, having won the race in both 2007 and 2009.
With outright favourite Kauto Star having odds of 8/11 and Denman odds of 4/1, it came as somewhat of a shock to many punters that Imperial Commander with odds of 7/1 managed to surge clear on the run-in to win by seven lengths, giving Brennan his first Gold Cup victory. So how did he do it? Well, as Twiston-Davies pointed out long before the Gold Cup, it was never going to be a two horse race and he afterwards stated that: '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.' To be fair Imperial Commander was always a strong candidate for the race, and his odds got better and better as race day approached - he had after all proved himself by winning the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March 2009, and gave Kauto Star a scare in the Betfair Chase at Haydock in November when he was ruled to have been beaten by a nose in a photo finish. He had simply been pushed out of the limelight by the media hype that surrounded Nicholls charges.
Added to this obvious disregard of the outsider's abilities was the fact that Kauto Star; ridden by Ruby Walsh, who had just set a new record for most races won at the Cheltenham Festival; fell four fences from the finish and Denman ridden by Tony McCoy came second. The 2009 Grand National winner Mon Mome came third, which trainer Venetia Williams was delighted with - not bad for a warm up race for the 2010 National!
Imperial Commander's win just gets better and better when you realise that the horse belongs to a six person syndicate who go by the name of Our Friends in the North, who bought the horse for £30,000 (roughly one third of the cost of Kauto Star) with insurance money they received after the death of promising hurdler Bobby Dazzler. Imperial Commanders Gold Cup win will have just netted them nearly £280,000!!