Imperial Cup tips and runner-by-runner guide to Sandown 2.25 on Saturday

16 runners go to post in this huge handicap hurdle.

Suprise Package wins the Imperial Cup at Sandown


*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change

Metier tops the weights for the Imperial Cup at Sandown.

The 2021 Tolworth Hurdle winner heads the 16-runner field for Saturday’s 14:25 off a handicap mark of 143. There are no fewer than four track-and-trip scorers in the line-up but Playful Saint, second to Love Envoi round here in December, is the market leader.

There is a bonus attached to the Imperial Cup if the first past the post can quickly follow up at the Cheltenham Festival, although the feat was last achieved by Gaspara in 2007. Suprise Package triumphed 12 months ago but could only finished sixth in the County Hurdle at Cheltenham.

Imperial Cup odds can be found on the Paddy Power website, Paddy Power app or via our snazzy betting widgets, otherwise Timeform’s horse-by-horse guide to the runners and betting tips from the racing boffins are below.

Imperial Cup tips

Timeform: Plenty are in with a shout. PLAYFUL SAINT scored with lots in hand at Leicester last time and remains with few miles on the clock so Dan Skelton’s 8-y-o gets the nod with conditions likely to be very much in his favour too. Salsada is weighted to have a big say back in handicap company having chased home Epatante in a Doncaster Grade 2 and is next on the list, with Monviel, Zoffany Bay and Punctuation completing the shortlist.

Imperial Cup runners


Trainer: Harry Fry Jockey: Sean Bowen Age: 7 Weight: 12st 0lbs

C&D winner who also bagged the November Handicap on final day of the Flat season. Well below par at Kempton on both his starts over hurdles since though so he has something to prove now.


Soaring Glory

Trainer: Jonjo O’Neill Jockey: Jonjo O’Neill Jr. Age: 8 Weight: 12st 0lbs


Lightly Squeeze

Trainer: Harry Fry Jockey: Ben Bromley Age: 9 Weight: 11st 6lbs

Returned to former stable with 2m win at Kempton in November but well below par over C&D in January. Needs to bounce back after his break.


Playful Saint

Trainer: Dan Skelton Jockey: Harry Skelton Age: 8 Weight: 11st 6lbs

Lightly-raced 8-y-o but he comes here on the back of easy success in 2m handicap hurdle at Leicester 25 days ago. Has conditions to suit again and rates a player despite taking a 7 lb rise.



Trainer: Gary Moore Jockey: Jamie Moore Age: 7 Weight: 11st 4lbs

Winning pointer who made it 3-4 in this sphere when readily landing novice over C&D 23 days ago. This is tougher but he’s still much respected now going handicapping.


Royale Margaux

Trainer: Tom Symonds Jockey: Ben Poste Age: 5 Weight: 11st 3lbs

Multiple winner in France around 2m for David Cottin who made an encouraging start for his new yard when fifth over 2m4f at Huntingdon. Since had wind op and not ruled out back in trip.



Trainer: Paul Nicholls Jockey: Harry Cobden Age: 5 Weight: 11st 3lbs

Ex-French winner who scored on his yard debut at Kempton in 2021. Got back on track after 10 months off when second of 10 to Hardy Du Seuil over C&D 63 days ago. Merits consideration nudged up only 1 lb.


Man O Work

Trainer: P. G. Fahey Jockey: William Kennedy Age: 5 Weight: 11st 3lbs

Useful Irish 2m winner who posted a good fourth of 17 in 2m handicap at Fairyhouse in December. Fell early at Leopardstown last time but he’s no forlorn hope here.



Trainer: Venetia Williams Jockey: Charlie Deutsch Age: 5 Weight: 11st 1lbs

Readily landed 2m2f handicap at Exeter in November on his yard debut but came in only 10th in 2m3f Ascot handicap three weeks ago. Still lightly raced and in excellent hands so not written off.



Trainer: Fergal O’Brien Jockey: Paddy Brennan Age: 6 Weight: 11st 0lbs

Much improved since joining Fergal O’Brien and fitted with a tongue tie, completing a 4-timer at Cheltenham in December. Posted another solid effort off 8 lb higher when fourth there last time so needs considering on the back of subsequent breathing surgery.



Trainer: Dan Skelton Jockey: Tristan Durrell Age: 7 Weight: 11st 0lbs

Won 4 times in 2022, including in a match over fences at Ffos Las, and not discredited when second in 2m Wetherby handicap chase later in November. Considered reverted to this sphere now.


Fine Casting

Trainer: Ben Pauling Jockey: Luca Morgan Age: 7 Weight: 11st 0lbs

Bagged his third success over hurdles when taking 2m2f handicap at Haydock in December. Not disgraced off a 8 lb higher mark when fifth at Uttoxeter since. Respected.



Trainer: Philip Hobbs Jockey: Ben Jones Age: 6 Weight: 11st 0lbs

C&D winner who took another step forward when dominating 2m Ascot handicap in November. Good staying-on fifth in Newbury’s Betfair Hurdle since so he’s one for the shortlist eased 1 lb under these more testing conditions.


Hardy Du Seuil

Trainer: Jamie Snowden Jockey: Gavin Sheehan Age: 6 Weight: 10st 13lbs

Took well to chasing for his current yard last season, winning twice, and added a C&D success over hurdles in January. Up 4 lb but not dismissed.



Trainer: Brian Ellison Jockey: Jonathan Burke Age: 6 Weight: 10st 12lbs


Zoffany Bay

Trainer: Peter Fahey Jockey: Aidan Coleman Age: 9 Weight: 10st 10lbs

Resurgent in 2021 for David Cottin in France, scoring at Auteuil (19.4f), and he made a promising return for his new yard when second of 12 in 2m3f Ascot handicap three weeks ago. Firmly in the picture.



Trainer: Tom Symonds Jockey: Caoilin Quinn Age: 6 Weight: 10st 7lbs

Useful on the Flat in Germany/France and got off the mark over hurdles in 2m Bangor novice in November. Has posted solid efforts to be placed in Wetherby handicap and Doncaster novice since so can’t be discounted.


Western Zephyr

Trainer: Charlie Longsdon Jockey: Sam Twiston-Davies Age: 6 Weight: 10st 6lbs

Point/bumper winner who has also scored twice over hurdles this season at Ludlow and Huntingdon. Beat only one in Exeter listed event last time though so much more is required in first-time hood here.


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