Imperial Commander may have only run once all season, but he is still the horse they all have to beat in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Nigel Twiston-Davies’ horse has not been seen on the racetrack since November when winning the Betfair Chase, but still is just the Cheltenham Gold Cup betting favourite at 4/1.
This bodes well for Imperial Commander as all of the last nine winners of the Cheltenham Gold Cup had also already claimed a Grade One success earlier in the same season.
Meanwhile, all of the last ten winners went off at no longer than 15/2 in the Cheltenham Gold Cup betting.
However, the one key statistic that Imperial Commander will have to overcome is the fact that a ten-year-old has not won the race since 1998.
Most punters would agree that one of the top four in the betting is liable to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup, but age is a factor that potentially scuppers all of their chances.
An 11-year-old has not secured victory since 1962, which is a serious negative on the chances of Denman and Kauto Star.
Kauto Star would certainly be greeted with the biggest cheer if he won, but 15/2 is too short on the horse, even if reasons have been given for his sloppy display in the King George.
There is a stronger likelihood that Denman will run to his best and is a decent each-way bet at 15/2, particularly as he has never finished outside of the first three in the race.
Therefore, King George winner Long Run is the main opposition for Imperial Commander and a repeat of his win at Kempton will surely see him go close.
Long Run’s betting odds are 9/2 to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup, but the fact he has never won at the course is a cause for concern.
With a few front-runners in the field, horses who like to sit off the pace may be able to run into a place, which brings into contention Kempes at 9/1 and 20/1 chance Tidal Bay.
A £20 stake on Long Run winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup would return £90. New customers can sign up here to take advantage of free bets totalling up to £60.