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."
19 December 2014Master back in the spotlight
Grugy in line to start cantering
Newland seeks more from Re
Prize money boost in HRI initiative
Zig zips to impressive victory
New steroids policy delayed
Serge states Supreme case
Martin readying big guns
Exciting Sceaux out at Fairyhouse
Firebird skips National service
Hobbs on Garde at Ascot
Fry excited by Activial chance
The New One in Haydock return
Reve camp not expecting a hat-trick
King issues Chatez Triumph warning
Bolger searching for Mossey key
King weighs up Karezak options
Henderson hoping Bobs makes Lexus
Simonsig camp play the long game
In-form Mole buries Exeter rivals
Sedgefield hit with heavy fine
Star names check in for Ryanair
Bobs revved up for Lexus repeat
Knott disqualified for three years
Geraghty braced for power Serge
Geraghty excited by Josses return
Activial stars in Ladbroke field
18 December 2014Alvarado back for National service
Winner given Lexus go-ahead
Cheltenham dreams for King's Zero
Sivola bids for Long Walk hat-trick
Power plan uncertain for Westener
Kauto pleases in Olympia display
Mullins eyes twin assault on Lexus
Value oozes class in Newbury romp
Annie Power on road to recovery
Spencer strikes after U-turn
Vautour ready for next jumps test
Mullins banks on Faugheen progress
Victory set to skip Ladbroke
Mullins: Fever can go the distance
17 December 2014Sidelined Brian misses Whittle
Sceaux to sidestep Haydock raid
Square season derailed by injury
Lexus a non-starter for Clouds
Europe return hinges on ground
Injury woe for Cookson
Plans on hold for Topper
Appeal success for Russell/Enright
Mulholland makes Master plan
Cango makes Catterick impression
Field sizes under BHA microscope
Quinn outlines Aurore options
Legal laying down the law at Ludlow
Ground dictates Attaglance plans
King heartened by Walkon return
Cross set Christmas conundrum
16 December 2014Pipe bowled over by Palace
Cole to duck Leopardstown mission
Pipe bowled over by Palace
Arbuthnot has Starluck options
Geraghty taken with weekend Heroes
Moore the merrier at Plumpton
Estrella back with a bang
Options fluid for Hargam
Lough set for Lexus workout
Sceaux in Haydock frame
Victoire at Ladbroke summit
Five left in Long Walk