Previous winner Imperial Commander ruled out of Cheltenham Gold Cup
Last Updated: March 5, 2013 5:08pm
A lung infection means Imperial Commander has once again been denied the chance to bid for more glory in the Betfred Gold Cup at Cheltenham.
Trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies was convinced the 12-year-old was back in the same sort of form which saw him defeat Denman and Kauto Star in the 2010 renewal.
Having pulled up with a broken blood vessel the following year he missed a whole season but came back at Cheltenham in January with a fine run when only narrowly denied by Cape Tribulation in the Argento Chase.
Twiston-Davies said: "He's got a lung infection so he won't be going to Cheltenham, that's that.
"What can you do, it's an absolute sickener but they are very delicate creatures.
"I'm sure he's still as good as ever, he's been in great form, but you can't rush them. Hopefully he'll be OK for Liverpool."
Paul Costello, syndicate manager for owners Our Friends In The North, added: "He worked (Tuesday morning) and he was not right.
"With it being this close to the Festival we didn't want to take any chances.
"His safety and wellbeing are obviously paramount so we had to give it a miss. It's a desperate shame as we were expecting a big run from him - he's definitely got it in him.
"Older horses can be susceptible to more little problems than younger horses, but I think this has just been a bit of bad luck that could have happened at any time."
Imperial Commander was given 11st 6lb in the National and the owners may consider that along with other major races later in the spring.
"He's got an entry in National, and he would have a nice weight, so we wouldn't close the door on that just yet," added Costello.