It's good to see the return of the 2010 Gold Cup hero IMPERIAL COMMANDER after almost two years off and it must be remembered that he was odds-on when beating Tidal Bay in the Betfair at Haydock that year. Race conditions are very much in his favour and he's taken to make a successful return. Tidal Bay was receiving 6lb when beaten by Midnight Chase in this last year but the latter pulled up when Paul Nicholls' charge won the Lexus last month. Midnight Chase is much better around here but may prefer slightly quicker ground. Weird Al won twice here as a novice but hasn't had much luck on the track subsequently and broke a blood vessel in the Gold Cup while Grands Crus has yet to fulfil early promise though he's still young enough to do so. Hunt Ball's progress appears to have stalled and Cape Tribulation would probably have run in the Sky Bet at Doncaster had it been on.
Midnight Chase 33-1 (11-10) Led, headed 7th, mistake 4 out and ridden in 5th next, no extra and pulled up before last, in a race won by Tidal Bay (11-10) at Leopardstown 3m chs G1 (1) sft in Dec, 9 ran.
Tidal Bay (IRE) 9-2 (11-10) In rear, ridden along in 7th 3 out, 6th next and went 4th before last, kept on under pressure between horses to lead closing strides, won at Leopardstown 3m chs G1 (1) sft in Dec beating First Lieutenant (11-10) by hd, 9 ran.
Wayward Prince 4-1 (11-0) Tracked leader, led approaching last, driven out, won at Aintree 3m 1f Listed chs (1) sft in Dec beating Across The Bay (11-6) by 2 1/2l, 4 ran.
Weird Al (IRE) 11-2 (11-7) In rear, outpaced 5 out, headwy before 3 out, kept on and no impression, 4th of 5, 7l behind Silviniaco Conti (11-7) at Haydock 3m chs G1 (1) sft in Nov.
Calgary Bay (IRE) 6-1 (11-6) Held up, mistake 3rd, hit 9th, mistake 15th, headway 4 out, 4th and beaten when hit last, last of 4, 28l behind Wayward Prince (11-0) at Aintree 3m 1f Listed chs (1) sft in Dec.
Cape Tribulation 7-2 (11-10) Held up in touch, headway 5 out, led next, easily, won at Wetherby 3m 1f Grade 3 hcp chs (4yo+) (1) hvy in Dec beating Mr Moonshine (11-5) by 11l, 7 ran.
Hey Big Spender (IRE) 16-1 (11-12) Always in rear, tailed off 16th, 7th of 11, well behind Katenko (10-6) at Sandown 3m hcp chs (2) sft.
Grands Crus (FR) 7-1 (11-10) Held up behind in touch, headway 9th, chased leading pair before 4 out, ridden and kept on same pace from next, no impression, 3rd of 9, 14l behind Long Run (11-10) at Kempton 3m Grade 1 chs (4yo+) (1) hvy in Dec.
Little Josh (IRE) 7-2fav (10-9) Led, not fluent 8th, headed after next, tracked leader, challenged 2 out, led final 150 yards, all out, won at Aintree 2m 5f hcp chs (2) hvy in Dec beating Gansey (10-0) by 1 3/4l, 9 ran.
Quartz de Thaix (FR) 3-1 (10-13) In touch, dropped to rear 9th, headway on outside 12th, went 3rd when mistake 4 out, left 2nd next, challenged 2 out, led narrowly between last 2, soon ridden, headed flat, kept on, 2nd of 8, 3/4l behind Master Overseer (10-0) at Cheltenham 3m 1f Grade 3 hcp chs (4yo+) (1) hvy in Dec.
Hunt Ball (IRE) 7-1 (11-3) Tracked leaders, closed 9th, ridden after 4 out, went 2nd before last, stayed on flat, not able to trouble winner, 2nd of 5, 3 1/2l behind Menorah (11-5) at Kempton 2m 4f Grade 2 chs (4yo+) (1) hvy in Dec.
Imperial Commander (IRE) 4-1 (11-10) Tracked leaders, headway to join leader when blundered 4 out, soon under pressure, lost place next, weakened and pulled up after 2 out, in a race won by Long Run (11-10) at Cheltenham 3m 2f chs G1 (1) gd in Mar '11, 13 ran.