Imperial Cup tips: Paddy’s antepost preview for Saturday’s big ITV race

PPTV presenter Graham Byrne has been doing his homework ahead of the Imperial Cup.



*Odds quoted on the widget are Future Racing / Antepost prices which means that if your selection does not run in the race for whatever reason – you will lose your stake under traditional Antepost rules.

The Grade Three handicap hurdle will carry a £50,000 bonus offered by Paddy Power to any horse that can follow up at the Cheltenham Festival next week and here at the home of the extra place, we are playing 5 places for this always-competitive handicap.

We’re also giving away a MILLION quid at Saturday’s meeting. Here’s all the details about our FOURTH attempt at running the Paddy Power Millionaire Chase.

Natural History

The early money has come flooding on Natural History. A smart performer on the flat for Andrew Balding, he was second in a Group 3 on his final flat start. Now in the care of Gary Moore, Natural History has improved in his hurdling and blew away the field on his final start at Plumpton. That race suggested that Natural History was plenty ahead of the handicapper and this race was immediately suggested as his next target. He was a 9/2 shot when the book was opened but he has been smashed into 3/1 favourite. He could be anything.


Paul Nicholls won this race last year with a 5-year-old, and he will be hoping to do so again with Rockadenn. Owned by the popular Million In Mind Partnership, Rockadenn announced himself as a promising gelding when he defeated stablemate Pic D’orhy in a Taunton handicap last month. It’s interesting that Nicholls has turned him out so quickly and he warrants plenty of respect. Last year’s winner Malaya is also one of four horses Paul Nicholls still has entered in this race.

Langer Dan

Another horse that has attracted plenty of early money is Langer Dan. He was a 14/1 shot when the book was opened but that price has almost halved. The Skelton yard have been in flying form and it would be no surprise to see them land another big Saturday pot. Langer Dan caught the eye last time out when he was a staying-on fourth in a Market Rasen hurdle. That was his comeback run after wind surgery and a lay-off, and his popularity in the early betting suggests he will build on that.

Highway One O Two

Chris Gordon has kept Highway One O Two busy lately. He was no match for Soaring Glory in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury on his penultimate start. But his latest run at the weekend, also at Newbury, was much better and he has now slipped down the weights, close to his last winning mark.





David Pipe is another trainer with a good record in this. The in-form handler has won this race three times, most recently with Baltimore Rock in 2014. His main hope this year looks to be Leoncavallo. The versatile 9-year-old won his last race over hurdles at Haydock back in August and ran with great credit when after that on the flat, when he was sixth in The Cesarewitch at Newmarket in October. He may be getting on a bit, but he still retains plenty of class.

Eamon An Cnoic

Eamon An Cnoic is another David Pipe trained runner. Eamon An Cnoic was an impressive winner of a Sandown Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle on heavy ground in February. He followed that up with a runner-up effort behind the promising, Grumpy Charley, at Chepstow. That form may be better than it looks, and he could have each/way prospects.

Maries Rock

Maries Rock looked to be a mare going places when she landed a hat-trick in a mare’s novice hurdle at Taunton in December 2019. She has had her problems and has only ran twice since. Her latest effort was in a Grade 2 Mare’s Hurdle at Doncaster in January where she trailed in over 12 lengths behind Floressa. She has had wind surgery before that race and the hood and tongue-tie were also applied.

One True King

One True King was an impressive winner of a Leicester Novice Hurdle in December before being sent off favourite for the Lanzarote Hurdle in January. One True King flopped on that occasion but looked to be getting his form back when third behind Midnight River at Ascot last time out. Nigel Twiston-Davies has won two of the last four renewals of this race, and One True King is capable.

Conclusion: With the extra places being paid, it’s worth looking at the bigger-priced runners. One True King can reach the frame, but it’s hard to ignore the market move for Langer Dan. And with the Skelton team in such great form, Langer Dan is the selection.

*Odds quoted on the widget are Future Racing / Antepost prices which means that if your selection does not run in the race for whatever reason – you will lose your stake under traditional Antepost rules.


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