Can Imperial Commander land the Paddy Power Gold Cup/ Gold Cup double at Cheltenham this Saturday?

The answer is yes he can. A former Irish point-to-pointer, the Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained Imperial Commander brought himself to the attentions of a wider audience by capturing the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham last month, putting himself in line for a possible tilt at the 2009 Gold Cup itself.

Whilst imperial Commander raced off just 10-7 on that occasion, he’s set to shoulder 11-9 at Cheltenham this Saturday. The fact remains though that the son of Flemensfirth is a clearly improving chaser and he’s therefore taken to show a clean pair of heels to Nicky Henderson’s hat-trick seeking mare My Petra.

The main supporting event at Cheltenham is the Grade 2 International Hurdle and it should prove profitable to row in behind Binocular.

The Nicky Henderson-trained Binocular finished an excellent second to Captain Cee Bee in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at this past year’s Cheltenham festival, duly rounding off the campaign by winning at Aintree. Binocular, owned by JP McManus, has already made a victorious return to the fray this winter and he’s taken to dispense with fellow four-year-old Crack Away Jack.

Hold Em should attain due reward for his consistency by showing a clean pair of heels to Buck The Legend in Novices’ Chase and Diamond Harry should enhance his burgeoning reputation by disposing of Cullahill in the Grade 2 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle.


The final two races from Doncaster will also be shown live on Channel 4 and Character Building stands out in the Betdaq The Betting Exchange Handicap Chase.

The John Quinn-trained Character Building finished a fine third to Denman in the 2007 Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup at Newbury and the grey appears quite well treated here on just 11-1. Character Building should make the most of the weight concession that he will be receiving from the majority of his rivals and he’s recommended to outpoint Possol.

Galilean has been placed third on his two most recent starts and David Pipe’s representative should conclude the afternoon on a profitable note for punters by dispensing with Buachaill On Eirne in the Betdaq In Running At 1% Handicap Hurdle.


There’s plenty of domestic racing over the weekend with racing at Fairyhouse on Saturday whilst enthusiasts can choose between Navan and Cork on Sunday.

At Fairyhouse, Another Ambition looks the part in the Fairyhouse Membership 2009 Handicap Hurdle. Another Ambition had little more than an exercise canter on his most recent foray when winning a two-mile Gowran Park handicap hurdle in late November off a mark of 80. Another Ambition has been raised six lbs for that aforementioned success and Tony Martin’s charge should continue on his merry way here at the expense of Polly Massini.

Dancing Tornado is the one to row in behind in the featured Rated Hurdle. Dancing Tornado, it’s fair to say has been a trifle unlucky over flights, but he did nonetheless finish second on his previous start in a two and a quarter mile hurdle at Thurles on November 20th having been previously brought down at the second last in a two mile three furlong contest at Naas. In all probability, Dancing Tornado should have most to fear here from The Rall.

Boolavougue is marginally preferred to An Peinteir in the Racecourse Signage Beginners Chase and The Book Thief is put forward to oblige from Perfectly Composed in the Happy Christmas (Pro/Am) INH Flat Race.


Unfortunately, the featured Barry & Sandra Kelly Memorial Novice Hurdle at Navan on Sunday has attracted a disappointed four entries.

This two and a half mile event should see the hugely-exciting Pandorama maintain his unbeaten record on the track for trainer Noel Meade, who underwent back surgery within the past few days. Pandorama has won two bumpers and two hurdle races since been purchased by Meade on behalf of Kinnegad hotelier Robert Bagnall. Indeed, it’s better that Pandorama seems to be getting for he beat Alpha Ridge by an unextended 26 lengths in the Grade 2 ‘Monksfield’ Novice Hurdle over this same course and two and a half mile distance last month.

In short, Pandorama seems destined for the very top and the Supreme Leader-sired gelding is likely to possess too many aces for Donnas Palm here.

Shakervilz is likely to give an excellent account of himself in the Grade 2 Giltspur Scientific Tara Hurdle. This Willie Mullins-trained five-year-old never even remotely came out of second gear when beating Sabina Park by 14 lengths in an extended two mile six furlong hurdle at Thurles last month. This event of course represents a mammoth step up in class, but Shakervilz seems to be improving and he’s likely to excel from Give It Time.

Trainer ‘Shark’ Hanlon appears to have a top-class recruit on his hands in the form of Luska Lad and the Flemensfirth-sired gelding should attain his fourth ‘bumper’ victory by beating Candy Creek in the closing Grade 2 Glen Dimplex Future Champ (Pro/Am) INH Flat Race.


At Cork, Pomme Tiepy is an interesting entry in the Grade 3 O’Connell Transport Cork Stayers Novice Hurdle. Pomme Tiepy developed into a formidable novice chaser for handler Willie Mullns last term. She showed her versatility over flights however by making all the running to win a two and a quarter mile hurdle race at Fairyhouse on November 29th. The French-bred Pomme Tiepy is unlikely to be inconvenienced by the step up to three miles and she’s recommended to upstage recent dual scorer Wright Flyer.

Tom Taaffe’s Finger Onthe Pulse has Freds Benefit to contend with in the Grade 3 O’Connell Logistics Hilly Way Chase whilst the Billy Harney-trained Leanne should return to the coveted number one slot from Brotenstown in the Irish Stallion Farms European Breeders Fund Lombardstown Mares Novice Chase, a listed race over two miles one furlong.