Imperial Commander finished for the season

Imperial Commander won’t run again this season. Ian Robinson, head of the Our Friends in the North syndicate said “I have spoken to the other members and to the trainer and jockey and Imperial Commander will now head to Ireland for his summer holiday.

“The horse is well but he is best fresh and we wanted to end the speculation about a run at Aintree or Punchestown. Hopefully he will be back next year for another crack at the Gold Cup”

About Steeplechasing

Writer, horse-racing fan, cyclist, consultant, entrepreneur. Worked at Aintree, SiS, The Tote, Ladbrokes. Created scoop6. Now run Gamtrain Ltd

Posted on March 29, 2011, in General and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Imperial Commander has no chance of winning the Gold Cup in 2012. Sure, anything can happen in racing, but Paddy Powers 16/1 quote is certainly too short and I reckon Denman at 25’s (Stan James) is better value to be placed again. I’d have the Commander at 33’s.
    Connections (in my opinion) need to work out why they own the horse and then decide what to do with him next.

    • I would agree that it is true to say that Imperial Commanders chances of winning the 2012 Gold Cup will be considerably less than his chances of winning the 2011 Gold Cup.

      The general trait of all horses is that beyond the age of 10 they lose speed, which whilst not necessarily a factor in the Gold Cup is indicative of the aging process of the thoroughbred. In addition to that the nature of the course and race is that few horses are able to produce the performance level required to be competitive in a series of Gold Cups.

      In addition to that we have to factor in Imperial Commander’s inherent weaknesses, which are always a major factor in plotting his next step. In reality this season was lost when he sustained the bad cut at Haydock. Managing his frailties has always been based upon a training regime which has its foundation in slow and constant conditioning. The absence of a race and the loss of critical fitness may well have been a factor in him bursting during the Gold Cup.

      I have no idea why we need to work out why we own the horse – the love of the thoroughbred, the sport and living the dream were always central to our thoughts.

      The question is what level of ability will Imperial Commander retain when he leaves his field in Ireland and starts out next season – and the answer is we don’t know and cannot know until we get there. From there we will have to construct a suitable future campaign which is consistent with the horses retained ability and welfare interests.

      Given his physical issues this will restrict the number of times he runs – and a handicap mark in the 180s will restrict the potential target races. So we will have to feel our way.

      As to what price he should be for next years Gold Cup – ask me in mid October next year.

    • Interesting response which is based on the premise that the thoroughbred horse is at his happiest standing in a field.
      It has of course long been the theory of many of the animal rights activists that banning racing would be beneficial to the animals involved. The question that they never answer is what would happen to the current population of thoroughbreds and what would the future of the breed hold.
      The reality is that the thoroughbred is a breed which has been engineered for centuries by those who wished to race horses. Every theory ever evolved on the subject of breeding has been based on how to make the horse faster, how to increase stamina or how to improve the physical characteristics of the horse to increase its chances of winning races. The breed we inherit today is therefore one incapable of sustaining itself if racing were to cease tomorrow. Indeed the obsession with speed over the last three decades has seen the erosion of the larger framed national hunt stock and its replacement with lighter boned stock that are less able to withstand the rigours of the national hunt code.
      In reality none of the horses who were prepared for the Gold Cup will have done so without attention and treatment being needed for some physical ailment. All will have received vet nary assistance to overcome the aches and pains resulting from their training campaigns. Indeed I am aware that at least one participant showed blood in his trac wash after the race (although obviously not displaying a serious condition like Imperial).
      In short this sport takes a physical toll on all of its participants, and anyone who is under the illusion that Imperial is the only horse suffering from such ailments or needing treatment and management to assist his career you is totally wrong. The reason that he tends to be the focus of such comments is that I am entirely transparent about the issues he faces, and do not hide them from public gaze.
      The reason that stables tend to close ranks and keep all of these physical issues under wraps is precisely to avoid the sort of reaction detailed in the latest post. Such comments are made without any detailed knowledge of the horse’s physical condition or the prognosis for such conditions, or the horse himself – and whilst everyone is entitled to their opinion are by that measure ill founded.
      It is the story that racing believes it cannot tell – but from my perspective the one that should be told. But the bottom line is this is a tough tough sport – and it is precisely the extreme physical requirements on horse and rider and their bravery, courage and desire which we celebrate. It is why champions are held in such esteem, and reverence – and why we all flock back to Cheltenham time after time.
      Best Mate raced only 22 times over a 6 year period – during that time his trainer was pilloried by all and sundry for her over cautious approach with the horse and how infrequently he was brought to the course. He was only 10 when he died. The thought that anyone involved with the horse should have foreseen his coronary failure, or that he should have been retired earlier is frankly ludicrous. Anyone who has ever met the trainer will know that the welfare of the horse was paramount in every move – and if there was any reason not to run then she would not have run the horse.
      Yet the harbingers of doom infused with a huge injection of hindsight circled overhead before the horse had even had time to enjoy a fitting eulogy.
      The truth is that we ask these horses for a lot, and we risk their safety every time they set foot onto a gallop or a racecourse. In return we provide them with exceptional standards of care and the one area of the BHA that does work is the strict regulation of horse welfare. We have an overall responsibility for their care both during their racing careers and after their retirement. These are responsibilities which I have always embraced for every horse in our care – irrespective of their ability.
      From my perspective the love of the thoroughbred has always been consistent with the treatment of any of the horses in my tenure. My central belief is that a fit thoroughbred is at his happiest, and he is a willing participant in the sport I love because he is doing what he loves.
      The alternative view that he would enjoy standing in a field for the rest of his time – that is not the horse I know. There will come a time when his physical prowess dims to the extent that he prefers to spend his days standing in a field, and until he pulls out of his field in August there is no way of judging if that time is now.
      What I do know is that he will tell us – he always has. He has made me laugh, he has made me cry, he has filled me with joy. He has kicked me several times, bitten me on numerous occasions and head butted me. But nothing will ever diminish the awe, respect reverence and love that I feel for him.
      I need no reminder of the risks of returning him to the race course – nor my responsibility for his welfare. Those decisions will be made in full knowledge of the facts, and I will bear the responsibility. Everyone is entitled to their opinion – the only one that matters to me is when I look Nelly in the eye.

  2. Many thanks for the response from Ian Robinson.
    I asked the question of why connections own the horse, and this response shows why I asked it. Mr Robinson provided 3 reasons; “the love of the thoroughbred, the sport and living the dream were always central to our thoughts”.
    When deciding where to go next with Imperial Commander, if “love of the thoroughbred” is paramount, then leave IC in the field in Ireland were he can come to no harm and enjoy retirement as a Gold Cup winner. If “the sport” is paramount then IC needs to run more than twice next season, otherwise your doing “the sport” a dis-service – the racing public want to see their champions race. If “living the dream” is paramount; well, you’ve won the Gold Cup (and Ryanair) so what next? The 2012 Grand National? (I don’t think so, even tho Twiston-Davies has a great record in that race.) That would bring me back to “love of the thoroughbred” (but then it’s not my horse) as I would not want to see Imperial Commander do a Best Mate – and die on the racecourse with nothing left to prove.

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