Friday, March 09, 2018

Sandown's Imperial Cup 2018

In a classic 'Father Ted' moment earlier today I inadvertently found myself stranded and bewildered in the lingerie department of Debenhams - I have absolutely no idea how I arrived there - wondering whether Summerville Boy could possibly confirm Tolworth running with Kalashnikov in the Supreme on Tuesday.

Fortunately, I know how to read the signs - I need a break from all that Cheltenham form study.

So, here's a view on the Imperial Cup, not run anywhere near Cheltenham at all but at Sandown, tomorrow, at 2.25, where the going is currently described as soft.

Seventeen have been declared. Nicky Henderson's course and distance winner Call Me Lord takes his chance, carries top weight and concedes a minimum of twelve pounds to all his opponents; stablemate Whatwrongwithyou heads the market at around 4/1.

Magic Combination won the 2000 renewal at the age of seven; since then there have been only three winners older than six: Scorned (9) in 2004; Alarazi (7) in 2011 and First Avenue (8) in 2013. Seven in this year's field are aged seven or older while Shanroe Saint races from three pounds out of the handicap.

Two have caught my eye.

At the time of writing both Ladbrokes and Coral go 16/1 about Alan King's Fidux and pay a quarter the odds four places; that looks fair value.

In November Fidux was unlucky to be brought down by a swinging hurdle at the last flight when one length behind Maria's Benefit, a 6/1 chance for the Mares' Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham on Thursday.

He was subsequently beaten under five lengths over this course and distance by A Hare Breadth (holds an entry the County Hurdle at Cheltenham on Friday).

The handler doesn't appear particularly bullish in the Weekender:

"I hope the ground doesn't get too bad and he seems in good order, fresh and well and not held up at all by the weather [unlike stablemate Scarlet Dragon who holds an entry in the Supreme].

"He's possibly at little high in the handicap this season but I'd love to see him back on better ground - although I don't think that will be this weekend!"

Clearly conditions aren't ideal but some may feel that is factored into the price.

Earlier in the afternoon my preference was for Master Of Irony; unfortunately it looks as though a number of others have had a similar idea. 14/1 has disappeared completely; at the time of writing Paddy Power and Betfred are amongst the layers offering 11/1 one fifth the odds five places.

Fourth behind High Bridge in the Gerry Feilden reads well; this evening the Racing Post quotes trainer John Quinn:

"He hasn't been out since that good run at Newbury in December but he'd have run at the big festival at Leopardstown but for travelling badly. He'll be fine here, as that was ferry problems, and I think he has a chance. If he were to win and come out the other end okay he's one who could run again next week, as he's had a light season."

The horse holds entries in the County Hurdle and Martin Pipe Hurdle at Cheltenham on Friday.

Master Of Irony is the Imperial Cup each-way selection (11/1 with Paddy Power / Betfred, one fifth the odds five places.)

And somehow it all comes back to Cheltenham. It really is very difficult to stop thinking about Cheltenham at this time of the year...

For the first time we will benefit from 48-hour declarations. In accordance with tradition, I'll be at the track on Wednesday and will post a blog for each day of the Festival.

Less than four days to go now...


Anonymous said...

Sophie Leech fields 2 and I like the look of Birch Hill. A 160,000 Euro purchase he never won a race for Nicky Henderson and was sold on for £22,000.

His new yard dropped him in class and trip and won a maiden and novice hurdle in the summer of 2016 to help repay some of the purchase price.

He was then stepped up to graded class in October 2016 but was pulled up on the turn in thought he was not completely out of it.

Off the track for well over a year he made his return at Cheltenham in January, sent off at 66/1 he never got involved and was pulled up, the hope is he needed the race.

Last time out, dropped down to a mark of 115, he won a handicap hurdle at Huntingdon as he liked under top weight against some consistent types.

Birch Hill still has the look of an improver and winning this off 126 might well be in his grasp, 40/1 with Ladbrokes looks far too big.

Huntsman Son is also on the upgrade, he finished in front of Le Patriote in the Cheltenham race Birch Hill was pulled up in and is 6lb better off at the weights today. I’ll have a save at 14/1.

I’ll read your Cheltenham posts with interest and try and chip in each day.

Best of luck


167,HUNTSMAN SON(IRE),15.05,6.8
168,BIRCH HILL(IRE),10.35,9.8
164,FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHT(FR),7.41,13.5
159,MAN OF PLENTY(GB),6.54,15.5
165,SILVER STREAK(IRE),5.87,17.5
161,MASTER OF IRONY(IRE),5.42,18.5
159,CALL ME LORD(FR),4.55,22
162,LE PATRIOTE(FR),4.55,22
161,CHTI BALKO(FR),4.27,24
163,MR ANTOLINI(IRE),4.15,25
163,GASSIN GOLF(GB),4.06,25
160,SHANROE SAINT(GB),3.9,26
147,HIGHWAY ONE O ONE(IRE),3.58,28

GeeDee said...

Good luck, TW!

Look forward to your Cheltenham ratings.


Reamonnt said...

Lingerie sections can be endless when trapped and looking flustered can be misconstrued as excitement.Imperial cup I'm with you and also Friday night light.

GeeDee said...

The official going at Sandown was soft; it looked pretty deep in parts on the televised pictures.

In a race that was run at a steady pace the vast majority of the field still held a chance three flights from home. Unfortunately there was more than a hint of irony in the fact that selection Master Of Irony (12/1), held up in rear, remained at the rear when asked for his effort; Richard Johnson was quick to pull up his mount when it became obvious any chance had gone - five of the seventeen failed to complete.

Meanwhile up front a battle royal had developed between Mr Antolini (20/1) and top weight Call Me Lord (8/1), the former prevailing by a neck on the line. The principals had barely pulled up before a stewards' inquiry was announced. Jamie Bargary and Daryl Jacob both appeared to have the whip in the wrong hand and there
was definitely bumping as the horses, tired in the ground, raced in the shadow of the winning post.

The drama was prolonged with pictures from the stewards' room showing Daryl Jacob making a forceful case that his mount, conceding 25 pounds, had been impeded. Balgary, in stark contrast, was succinct, maintaining his mount would still have been ahead if they had raced for a further furlong.

And sometimes less is more - Mr Antolini kept the race. Henderson's other runner Whatswrongwithyou (100/30f) finished a further nine lengths adrift in third with Huntsman Son (9/1) a head adrift in fourth and Man Of Plenty (25/1) fifth.

Mr Antolini doesn't hold an entry at Cheltenham next week so the £100,000 bonus on offer to the winner who then goes on to win any race at the Festival remains safely in the hands of sponsors Matchbook.