Injured Imperial Commander still on course for Kempton

Connections of Imperial Commander still hope to get the Gold Cup winner to the William Hill King George VI Chase despite the nine-year-old sustaining a minor injury at Haydock on Saturday.

Last season's Cheltenham hero returned with a cut after winning the Betfair Chase, and trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies will monitor his progress before hopefully preparing him for a clash with Kauto Star at Kempton Park on Boxing Day. "He came back with a little cut on his foreleg," said the Naunton handler.

"He'll be in his box for a week and we'll have to monitor it, obviously, but hopefully we should have him cantering again after that and hopefully have him ready for the King George."

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Jockey Paddy Brennan is looking forward to a clash with Kauto Star, who is bidding to win the Christmas cracker for an unprecedented fifth time. "In the King George this year I'll ride him much handier than last year," he said. "Obviously we've all got the favourite Kauto Star to beat but this year he's missing one of the most important people associated with him and that's Ruby Walsh and that gives us all a bit of hope."

Brennan wished he hadn't eased Imperial Commander down in the closing stages, allowing Tidal Bay to get to within a length and a quarter at the line.

"I wasn't very pleased with my riding towards the finish. I would never want any young jockey to do what I did," he went on. "I put the race to bed, but when I sat up on him it was like a car going into neutral - he really pulled up.

"I stopped riding about 100 yards from the line and was looking after the horse, but we should all learn and push out more to the line.

"On soft ground like that as soon as you drop the accelerator they can go down in gears very quickly." Despite being flattered by his proximity to the winner, Tidal Bay's connections were delighted with his performance.

"I didn't know what to think yesterday morning, but I came away from Haydock thinking we might have a Gold Cup horse," said owner Graham Wylie.

"If that's the case we will probably give him just one run before Cheltenham.He ran poorly over hurdles at Wetherby but you just have to mix and match with him, keep him interested."

The success continued for Twiston-Davies at Aintree yesterday, where Hello Bud, ridden by son Sam, won an eventful race for the Becher Handicap Chase over the Grand National fences.

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The 15-2 favourite made the bulk of the running in the hands of his 18-year-old rider, who was successful last weekend in the Paddy Power Gold Cup on his father's Little Josh.

He was headed briefly by Ballyvesey three out but that one could not keep up the gallop and Hello Bud went on again.

The race was far from over though, as Brian Hughes brought Royal Rosa with what looked a perfectly-timed run.

Hello Bud found more on the long run to the line and won by a length and a quarter from Royal Rosa with One Cool Cookie 10 lengths away third and Ballyvesey fourth.

Paddy Power and William Hill gave Hello Bud a 33-1 quote for the Grand National back over the big fences in April while Coral go 25-1 from 50s.