Sunday 9 December 2018

Decision on Kempes going for Gold Cup is delayed

A decision on Kempes' participation in the totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup is not expected for at least a week.

The eight-year-old, trained by Willie Mullins, leapt into the picture for the blue riband prize when winning the rearranged Hennessy Gold Cup at Leopardstown on Saturday.

He has an alternative entry in the Ryanair Chase at the Festival and connections are in no hurry as to make definite plans for him.

"It was a great win and he's come out of the race very well," said Frank Berry, racing manager to owner JP McManus.

"We'll sit on it for about a week or so and then decide about Cheltenham.

"He stayed the three miles and handled the ground quite well. It was very encouraging. We couldn't be more pleased with him."

Kempes is 16/1 with the sponsors for the Gold Cup and 25/1 for the Ryanair.

Imperial Commander delighted connections in a racecourse gallop at Warwick as part of his preparation for his defence of the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

The 10-year-old worked two miles with two other horses trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies in his first serious work ahead of next month's big race.


"We galloped him over two miles this morning. It went really well and he galloped with two of our young ones," said the Naunton handler. "That's his first really serious racecourse gallop. He will then go to Kempton on Racing Post Chase day and have another gallop there.

"That will put him absolutely brilliant, we hope, for the Gold Cup.

"All we have to do is to get him to the races in the same form as last year and then it will take a very good one to beat him.

"He seems in very good form and is back after having that little setback before Christmas which healed.

"He had a long time off last year from the King George to the Gold Cup and got there in one piece.

"It went really well and I'm sure we can do it again.

"This is just one gallop, one more to come and I think he'll be fine."

The horse has not raced since making a successful reappearance in the Betfair Chase at Haydock in November.

He was to have run in the King George VI Chase at Kempton but a setback ruled him out of the Christmas feature.

Imperial Commander is ante-post favourite at around 7/2 to retain his crown at Prestbury Park on March 18.

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