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Imperial Cup day at Sandown

Frank Monkhouse | 11 March 2017

We pick holes in the jolly

Horse racing punters have one eye on the fast-approaching Cheltenham Festival, but we have an entertaining Saturday to get through first, with UK and Irish meetings at Sandown, Wolverhampton, Ayr, Hereford, Chelmsford and Gowran scheduled. Click here to place your horse racing bets, and boost your betting balance in time for next week’s spectacle.

We focus on matters at Sandown, with the Surrey course hosting an afternoon headlined by the Imperial Cup, due to post at 3.00pm. Concentrating on the grade three contest in our betting preview, if you scroll to the bottom of this page you will also find a selection in every race, designed to aid your multiple bets.

Nicky Henderson can also gain success with Lough Derg Spirit at Ascot.

Serious doubts over the favourite

A competitive 13-runner field makes for a wide-open betting market, with Fixe Le Kap starting at the head of the list. Our traders have in-form trainer Nicky Henderson’s four-year-old gelding as 9/2 jolly at the time of writing, easing out slightly from an opening 4/1 in an attempt to drum up interest.

Arriving with a CV showing two wins and a second from four career starts, it’s little surprise to see odds compilers take on that view, but there does seem to be more value elsewhere. He hasn’t been seen since finishing back in eighth-place at Cheltenham in the Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle last year, and that absence, paired with top-weight, goes as a red flag for me.

Sandown Imperial Cup

Improving Kayf Blanco worth a shot

Instead we’ll be chucking our support behind one at more of a price in Kayf Blanco. Graeme McPherson’s experienced eight-year-old gave a decent account of himself in the Betfair Hurdle last month, a race that’s often worth keeping in mind when picking the winner of the Imperial Cup. Finishing back in fifth that day, behind winner Ballyandy, he was seen forcing the issue at the business end of proceedings, but was just done for pace by a couple who were better when push came to shove.

The most impressive aspect of that run last time out at Newbury was the way he was seen staying on at the finish, and I immediately had him jotted down as one worth serious consideration here. We won’t get anything like the 25/1 he went off that day, but he still gives us something decent to shoot at, with Coral handing out 10/1 at present, after nibbles of support.

Sandown Selections

1.20 – Zalvados

1.50 – Minella Awards

2.25 – Shanroe Santos

3.00 – Kayf Blanco

3.35 – Redhotfillypeppers

4.10 – Casse Tete

4.45 – Gores Island

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