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The largest field since 2015 will contest the Paddy Power Imperial Cup at Sandown on Saturday, although last year’s winner Langer Dan will not be among the 22 runners.
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You’ll find Timeform’s runner-by-runner analysis and Paddy Power Imperial Cup tips from our horse racing pundits below.
Paddy Power Imperial Cup runners
Trainer: Paul Nicholls Jockey: Mr Ben Bromley Age: 7 Weight: 11st 12lbs
Likeable mare who showed an excellent attitude when scoring at Ludlow. Below-par second in Yorkshire Rose Mares’ Hurdle (evens) at Doncaster but she’s the sort to bounce back.
Trainer: Paul Nicholls Jockey: Harry Cobden Age: 5 Weight: 11st 5lbs
Gained his third win in listed handicap over C&D but off track since pulled up in Ascot handicap later in December. Worth another chance after his break.
Trainer: Neil King Jockey: Jack Quinlan Age: 7 Weight: 11st 3lbs
Bagged his third win of the season when making all at Newbury. Excellent second at Ascot since, so this likeable type is well in the mix nudged up just 1 lb.
Trainer: Peter Fahey Jockey: James Bowen Age: 6 Weight: 11st 1lbs
Winless since last April but he arrives in good nick, ninth of 27 in handicap hurdle at Leopardstown (16f) 34 days ago. Irish raider is shortlisted.
Trainer: Nick Kent Jockey: Charlie Hammond Age: 9 Weight: 11st 1lbs
Arrives on a hat-trick after back-to-back wins at Catterick, scoring readily over 2m on latter occasion. Up another 7 lb but not taken lightly in his current mood.
Trainer: Nicky Henderson Jockey: Nico de Boinville Age: 6 Weight: 11st 0lbs
Improving hurdler who landed 2m novices at Huntingdon and Ludlow before excellent second in Classic Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham (20.2f) last time. Goes into handicaps on a good mark. Player.
Hacker Des Places
Trainer: Paul Nicholls Jockey: Angus Cheleda Age: 5 Weight: 10st 13lbs
French import who got back to winning ways in 5-runner handicap at Chepstow (16f) 14 days ago. Up 4 lb now but he’s no forlorn hope.
Up For Parol
Trainer: Jamie Snowden Jockey: Gavin Sheehan Age: 6 Weight: 10st 12lbs
Progressive sort who scored at Haydock and posted another excellent effort when clear third in 20f handicap at Wetherby 24 days ago. Remains one to be interested in.
Trainer: Dan Skelton Jockey: Mr Tristan Durrell Age: 6 Weight: 10st 12lbs
Useful novice who won twice last term and shaped well when third at Hereford on his chasing bow in January. Respected back in this sphere after a break.
Trainer: Gary Moore Jockey: Joshua Moore Age: 5 Weight: 10st 10lbs
Fairly useful ex-French Flat/hurdle performer. In excellent hands, so he’s worth a second look on his handicap/yard debut.
Trainer: Tom Symonds Jockey: Aidan Coleman Age: 5 Weight: 10st 10lbs
Has taken his form up a notch this term, scoring at Fontwell before strong-finishing third in 2m handicap at Cheltenham 42 days ago. Should progress further. Claims.
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Trainer: Bernard Llewellyn Jockey: Sean Bowen Age: 7 Weight: 10st 8lbs
Winless since early 2020, but he arrives in excellent nick, third at Taunton (16.5f) 18 days ago. In the picture once more.
Trainer: Evan Williams Jockey: Isabel Williams Age: 7 Weight: 10st 7lbs
Resumed winning ways in 2m novice hurdle at Chepstow last month. Still low mileage, so she needs considering now going into handicaps.
Trainer: Evan Williams Jockey: Adam Wedge Age: 6 Weight: 10st 6lbs
Much improved for this yard, winning 3 times, but only tenth in Betfair Hurdle (100/1) at Newbury 28 days ago. Needs to get back on track.
Mr Grey Sky
Trainer: Kim Bailey Jockey: David Bass Age: 8 Weight: 10st 6lbs
Lightly raced 8-y-o who comes here on a hat-trick after all-the-way wins at Leciester and Ludlow. This is tougher, but he has more to offer and shouldn’t be underestimated.
Trainer: Dan Skelton Jockey: Harry Skelton Age: 7 Weight: 10st 5lbs
Ended his time with Paul Nicholls on a low note, but he hinted strongly at a revival for his current yard when third in Ascot handicap 21 days ago. Interesting off a much-reduced mark now.
Trainer: Adrian Keatley Jockey: K. Brogan Age: 5 Weight: 10st 4lbs
Much improved of late, scoring over 2m at Newcastle and Musselburgh. Strong traveller, who is much respected back in handicap company.
Trainer: Michael Scudamore Jockey: Richard Patrick Age: 7 Weight: 10st 4lbs
Looked promising when easily winning 2m novice hurdles at Ffos Las and Ayr in November but pulled up in Rossington Main at Haydock in January. Worth another chance on his handicap bow.
Trainer: Ian Williams Jockey: Charlie Todd Age: 6 Weight: 10st 2lbs
Regained winning ways over C&D in January but reportedly struck into when ninth in handicap at Cheltenham last time. Sort to bounce back.
Trainer: D. J. Jeffreys Jockey: Archie Bellamy Age: 7 Weight: 10st 1lbs
Likeable and consistent sort who comes here on the back of gutsy win in 2m Leicester handicap last month. Not ruled out despite taking 4 lb rise.
Trainer: Philip Hobbs Jockey: Tom O’Brien Age: 5 Weight: 10st 1lbs
Has progressed with each of his three runs and successful in 2022 in Wincanton maiden and C&D novice. Open to further progress now handicapping and is one to consider.
Grisbi De Berce
Trainer: Alan King Jockey: Jonathan Burke Age: 6 Weight: 10st 1lbs
Low-mileage 2m winner who was set a lot to do when good fourth in 2m handicap at Kempton in January. No forlorn hope off an easing mark after his break.
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Paddy Power Imperial Cup tips
Matt Chapman: Kim Bailey has never had a runner in the Imperial Cup before but he has a right each-way chance here with MR GREY SKY. Ridden by David Bass, the Grey Sky as won his last two starts at Leicester and Ludlow and was impressive last time. He’s edging up the ratings but has a great weight here.
Mick Fitzgerald: ONEMOREFORTHEROAD has not run since Ascot where he finished a good second to Tritonic with Goshen and Metier all behind him. He won the Gerry Fielden at Newbury and is only 4lbs higher here. Balco Coastal is the obvious one as favourite. His second at Cheltenham got a boost when the horse that beat him got chinned in a graded race at Kelso next time out. Two miles is perfect for him as he is a strong traveller, but lacks experience and that would be a concern in a contest like this. Hystery Bere is another who warrants respect that form of his last time at Cheltenham has been boosted again this stiff uphill finish will suit.
Frank Hickey: I’ve thrown two darts at this. The first is LUCKY ONE for Dan Skelton. I put up this horse at a big price at Ascot last time out and he finished third behind Good Risk At All. It was a fair effort and the first bit of life shown since moving to the Skelton yard. He looks very well handicapped as he’s dropped from 137 to 125 over the last few months. What’s interesting is Dan Skelton had a lot entered for this and Lucky One is his number one.
The other one I like is HYSTERY BERE. He’s won on heavy ground before and last time on good ground at Cheltenham he ran an absolute cracker. He travelled well and looked under pressure two out when the pace quickened, it looked like he was going to finish last but he flew up the hill to place third. The form has since been franked as well and he only got hiked 2lbs for that. He’ll get a strong pace to run at here and if he’s in contention turning into the straight he’ll fly up the hill. He’s an each-way chance and we’re paying six places here.
Timeform: Plenty are in with a shout in an ultra competitive Imperial Cup. Dan Skelton landed this event 12 months ago and his LUCKY ONE signalled he’s ready to strike when third at Ascot last time so can capitalise on a much-reduced mark. Balco Coastal arrives on the up and is feared most on his handicap debut, although a case can also be made for Onemorefortheroad, Hystery Bere and Grisbi de Berce.
Ruby Walsh: I’m going for one at a price in what is an open affair. CURRENT MOOD won well at Chepstow on his last start and Isabel Williams claims 3lbs to bring the weight back to 10st 4lbs. He has the pace to travel handily, stays well and carries a light weight.
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