Eyes are being drawn to the Cheltenham Festival, which gets underway next week, but Sandown serves up a tasty Hors d’oeuvre on Saturday in the shape of the Imperial Cup.
With the sponsors offering up a bonus for any horse that wins the race and goes on to score at the Festival, it is often a hugely competitive affair.
Not many horses have done the double down the years, but connections of the winner can dream for a few days and there are 17 runners bidding to emulate the likes of Olympian, Blowing Wind and Gaspara.
The first two of the aforementioned trio were trained by the great Martin Pipe and his son David – who saddled Gaspara – relies on Friday Night Light to continue the family tradition of hunting the £100,000 bonus. Tom Scudamore’s mount is a 9/1 shot with 188BET.
Call Me Lord heads the weights from the Nicky Henderson yard. The five-year-old has to concede a minimum of 12lbs to all his rivals and it would be a mighty accomplishment were he to triumph. He can be backed at 7/1 with 188BET.
Call Me Lord being in the race means stablemate Whatswrongwithyou has a nice racing weight of 10st 13lbs and the winner of his last two races is 188BET’s market leader at 6/1.
Also available to back at 6/1 is the Dr Richard Newland-trained Le Patriote, who got off the mark in this country on his most recent outing at Ascot in the style of an improving performer.
Silver Streak was well fancied for the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury last month, but got no further than the second flight and he bids to atone for the Evan Williams yard. He can be backed at 8/1.
Fidux goes into battle for the Alan King yard and this 10/1 shot has run some promising races this term under claiming rider Kevin Dowling, but now has the services of stable jockey Wayne Hutchinson and on the form of his third behind Call Me Lord over course and distance last year he looks to have decent claims.
Octagon is three from three this term for trainer Harry Whittington and looks to have been earmarked for the race, but it is a marked step up in class. If he has improved since his last appearance in December then 188BET’s price of 14/1 could appeal to each-way punters.
Chti Balko, Huntsman Son, Highway One O One, Master Of Irony, Castafiore, Mr Antolini, Birch Hill, Gassin Golf, Shanroe Saint and Man of Plenty make up the rest of the 17-strong field.