It’s Imperial Cup Day at Sandown Park on Saturday afternoon and the Esher venue is set to host some fiercely competitive contests.
There’s a £50,000 bonus for any horse that can win today’s feature race and then go on to score at the Cheltenham Festival next week – something last achieved by David Pipe’s Gaspara in 2007.
You can watch all the action from Sandown (1.15pm-4.45pm; seven races) via live steaming when logged into MansionBet and our expert has got selections for all Saturday’s races at the track.
1.15 – Paddy’s Giving Away 1 Million Today Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (2m)
The market suggests this rests between HUDSON DE GRUGY and Volkovka, with preference for Gary Moore’s charge who has twice gone well here since arriving from France. He made a pleasing debut at the Tingle Creek meeting when second to Elham Valley and went one spot better in January. There’s more to come as he learns his trade and better ground may aid him. The filly gets 3lb but must improve on her Exeter showing recently. State Crown is best of the rest and may do better on this ground.
Selection: Hudson De Grugy @
1.50 – European Breeders’ Fund Paddy Power ‘National Hunt’ Novices’ Handicap Hurdle Final (Grade 3, 2m4f)
The action becomes fiercely competitive from this point on. Lots of talented novices competing for this Listed prize, with the likes of Karl Philippe, Marthinal and The Mick Pastor greatly respected. GLADIATEUR ALLEN was behind the first-named duo at Exeter in January but scored readily at Ascot over 2m5½f next time. He was beaten as favourite back there last month taking on far more experienced rivals but that outing is going to stand him in good stead now back amongst novices. His stamina can be key given how testing things looked here on Friday and he’s a big price.
Selection: Gladiateur Allen @
2.25 – Paddy Power Imperial Cup Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3, 2m)
Natural History was very impressive at Plumpton on handicap bow but Gary Moore’s charge is 16lb higher now bidding to land the Imperial Cup. He’s short enough in the betting. Langer Dan was a Market Rasen eye-catcher last time but LEONCAVALLO stands out here for a trainer with an exceptional record in this race. David Pipe has kept the Cesarewitch sixth fresh for this, he goes well fresh and is on a fair mark relative to best hurdles form. He was flying after joining this yard last year and is a big player.
Selection: Leoncavallo @
3.00 – British Stallion Studs EBF Mares’ Standard Open NH Flat Race (Listed, 2m)
Rainyday Woman is thriving for Paul Nicholls and was a comfortable winner at Huntingdon in this grade in December. She’s got a penalty to defy and this race is laced with mares that already know how to win. Ucanaver represents last year’s winner trainer/jockey and surely is better than her Cheltenham run in November, she’s undergone wind surgery since and is a big price based on the earlier Fontwell rout. TWEED SKIRT won a junior bumper at Wetherby on debut in January and rates a very likely improver for Nicky Henderson. She gets the nod.
Selection: Tweed Skirt @
3.35 – Paddy’s Rewards Club Novices’ Handicap Chase (Listed, 2m4f)
This could be some burn-up; with High Up In The Air, Farinet, Stratagem, No Getaway and Annsam all forward-going sorts – Evan Williams’ runner is a big price under Tom O’Brien in the betting and could have a say but the likes of Belargus and ADMIRAL BARRATRY may do best late on. Lucy Wadham’s team are in good form and having collided with a handicap blot at Fakenham in January, Bryony Frost’s mount is a key player here from only 4lb higher himself.
Selection: Admiral Barratry @
4.10 – ‘From The Horse’s Mouth’ Podcast Handicap Chase (3m)
Eclair De Guye had MISTER MURCHAN behind earlier in the season at Huntingdon but the latter continues to improve and is better off on these terms. He gets on well with 5lb claimer Niall Houlihan and a return to this longer distance is favourable having finished third behind pace-setting No Getaway (runs in previous race) over 2m4f here last month. Debece debut for new trainer Dan Skelton and sports new headgear. He’s worth monitoring too.
Selection: Mister Murchan @
4.45 – Paddy Power ‘3 Sleeps To Cheltenham’ Handicap Chase (2m4f)
Go Steady was back on track at Huntingdon recently and is respected for the Skelton brothers but the money was down for FIVE STAR GETAWAY at Wincanton 10 days ago and he delivered in pretty fine style. The handicapper has bumped him up 11lb and he’s in a better race, but he’s off a light weight with Nick Scholfield up and could take plenty of beating again.
Selection: Five Star Getaway @
*All odds correct at time of writing