Cape Tribulation put himself in the Gold Cup picture with a last-gasp success in the Argento Chase at Cheltenham.
In an attritional renewal, only the winner, Hunt Ball and Imperial Commander were in contention from quite some way out as gruelling conditions took a toll, with Cape Tribulation in the slipstream of the other two under a superb waiting ride from Denis O'Regan.
Hunt Ball gave way in the straight and just as Imperial Commander, the 2010 Gold Cup winner having his first start for 680 days, looked like he had done enough, the Malcolm Jefferson-trained Cape Tribulation (7-1) dramatically got up on the line.
O'Regan said: "He jumped well, he travelled great and he enjoyed the ground. He's a different horse this year and I'm delighted.
"I missed the second-last and I had to give him a chance to get rolling again. He loves Cheltenham and he tried his heart out. He's a very tough horse when it comes down to it."
Jefferson added: "Now I think we'll probably have to come back for the Gold Cup. I'm not saying he's going to win it, but he might get placed in one, this year's especially. He's in the World Hurdle, but he is jumping so well now I think the Gold Cup is the race he'll go for.
"On his day he's a good horse. Denis was brilliant, but if a horse does everything right these are good jockeys and they know what to do. He might be better on better ground and if could get a place in the Gold Cup that might be better than running with a big weight in a handicap."
Nigel Twiston-Davies was full of praise for Imperial Commander.
He said: "You'd have to be delighted and if we'd been able to get him fit enough he probably would have won. It's been so difficult getting him back with his splint problems, but we have kept him swimming and that made all the difference.
"He kept tanking and if he had settled better he would probably have had more of a finishing kick. There are six weeks to to the Gold Cup and that is plenty of time."
23 April 2014No Sandown run for Oscar
Un De Sceaux to skip Punchestown
Treve among stellar Ascot entries
Charline still in Guineas mix
Big guns remain in Guineas frame
Telescope tops Richards runners
Prince in Punchestown frame
Sparrow set for Punchestown spin
Balder to take novice test
No rush for Annie target
Connell eager for Tank chase run
Cosgrave appeal set for Monday
Hughes set for Sandown return
France adds flair to Guineas
Mullins drops Vautour Champion hint
Exciting Bunker given Dante date
Culloty keen on Gold run for Heeled
Hannon triple-handed in Guineas
Resurge revived for Epsom return
Sandown option for Battalion
Johnston pair clash in Derby Trial
Reckless Abandon returns to track
22 April 2014Rizeena delights in Guineas workout
Carberry targets swift return
Williamson escapes serious injury
Rizeena thrills Brittain on gallops
Door bags National glory
Twiston-Davies hits four-timer
Joe suffers shock defeat
Scudamore hits century mark
Ivan lands Fairyhouse prize
Thousand shows star quality
Cirrus set for Treve clash
Houblon heads Gold contenders
Guineas still on Berkshire radar
21 April 2014Door bags National glory
Wilson passes away
Ivan lands Fairyhouse prize
Stepper set for trip drop
Richards in Telescope sights
Ladies geared for Summer repeat
Hill out of Irish National
No Dundeel at Royal Ascot
Clowance up for the Cup
Garner hit with lengthy ban
Memories in Final flourish
Fitz powers home at Fairyhouse
Toner hits target for Elliott
Joe ready for Cork outing
Lennon looking to call tune
Ground holds key to Tonto show
Lucky escape for Cook
Mind called up for National service
20 April 2014Fitz powers home at Fairyhouse
Lyons backs Brackan
Brookhouse turns to Crawford
Weld and Smullen keep up good work
Whiskey shows winning spirit
Brook another for Russell team
Zurigha blossoms in Snowdrop
Planning pounces at Haydock
Escalating moving on up
Buntline bidding for more
Rebel all set for big Powers test