Fans of the 2010 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Imperial Commander are likely to have to wait until the 2012/13 season before seeing him in action again as the popular gelding has sustained a tendon injury in pre-training for this campaign that has ruled him out for the rest of the season, writes Elliot Slater.

The news comes as a bitter blow to the 10-year-old’s trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies, who had been eagerly looking forward to receiving the son of Flemensfirth back into his yard and to getting on with the job of re-establishing the high-class chaser back at the top of the chasing ladder.

It is understood that the gelding suffered the injury whilst being prepared for a return to full training at the Mount Top Stud in Ireland, having last been seen in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March (won by Long Run), in which he had raced prominently until going lame after the fourth last, eventually being pulled up before the final fence. The Cheltenham Festival 2012 will be worse for his absence.

Imperial Commander’s seven-length demolition of the tremendous Denman in the 2010 renewal will live long in the memory, and it had looked at the start if last term as if he was going to prove a continuing force in the chasing game following his impressive seasonal bow in which he proved just too classy for the talented but enigmatic Tidal Bay in the Grade 1 Betfair Chase at Haydock in November, before being rested ahead of returning fresh as he attempted to retain his title at Prestbury Park in March. People looking for Cheltenham betting tips will have been expecting him to go well.

Whilst he may well return fit and well in 12 months time, the plain truth is that as a near 12-year-old it is hard to imagine Twiston-Davies’ star coming back as good as ever, even though he doesn’t have many miles on the clock having had just 19 races in his career.

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