AUTHOR: William Kedjanyi


Every jump racing fan will be reaching fever pitch in terms of excitement ahead of a certain four days next week, but there’s plenty for the punters to get stuck into on Imperial Cup Day at Sandown. With six handicaps on a seven-race card – and all of them having eight runners at least – there’s a good pre-Festival contest to be had, writes WILLIAM KEDJANYI.

For those reading who have an eye on next week, don’t miss our top content:

Harry Skelton’s video previews:

CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL GUIDE with Davy Russell & Harry Skelton:



Without further ado, let’s start with the big race of the day…

2.25 Sandown – Betfair Imperial Cup Handicap Hurdle (Class 2) (4yo+) 2m


As you’d expect it’s a fiercely contested renewal of the Imperial Cup and Go Dante, who brings the best form into the race courtesy of his third in the Betfair Hurdle last time when ahead of two Skelton contenders in the shape of Faivoir and Knickerbockerglory. Read more about their chances from our Ambassador Harry Skelton below:

HARRY SKELTON: Saturday Preview

Iberico Lord – the winner that day – has been supplemented for the Champion Hurdle and looks like a Graded horse whilst the runner-up L’Eau Du Sud had shaped with great promise at the back end of last season and looks a major player in the County Hurdle, which suggests he should have every chance off 129 here. On his other two starts this season, he’s finished a very creditable sixth in the Greatwood (again ahead of Knickerbockerglory) and then beat Doddiethegreat and Panjari (wide margin winner of Scottish Supreme Novices’ Hurdle) in a strong handicap hurdle at Cheltenham’s December meeting – if he can repeat that form again he’ll have every chance.

The form of the Ben Pauling yard means Bad and Jipcot have to be feared, although Bad’s backers might be concerned about the fact he travelled so all over Moothill before being worried out of things at Ascot. Making Headway was a game winner at Newbury on Betfair Hurdle day who ought to be involved, whilst market support for Sans Bruit would be interesting after a low-key British debut at Doncaster (now has hood applied).

3.35 Sandown Betfair Serial Winners Fund Novices’ Handicap Chase (Premier Handicap) (Class 1) (5yo+) 2m4f


Paul Nicholls and Harry Cobden have been in flying form all season and they have a big chance of landing a decent pot with Golden Sun in this Novices’ Handicap chase. A smart horse in France for Francois Nicholle – he was a Grade 2 winner as a juvenile hurdler – he made a promising debut when second only to Iroko at Warwick with Kilbeg King (since placed in Graded company), but then disappointed twice at Aintree and Newbury.

The application of cheekpieces saw him return to form in style at Kempton, getting the better of subsequent Greatwood Gold Cup winner Heltenham, whilst last time out winners Grandads Cottage and Pepe Le Moko were behind. He’ll need to back that up this time around but maybe first-time cheekpieces are the key to him and a 3lbs rise for his Kempton win looks generous.

This is a hot race – as one would expect for the money – and it’s hard to rule out any contender, but if we see the real Golden Sun then expect him to take some stopping.

4.40 Handicap Chase (Class 3) (5yo+ 0-130) (2m4f)


The old saying goes ‘Good things come to those who wait’ and the best bet of the day might well be in the last with Es Perfecto making standout appeal. In his three chase runs this season he’s bumped into subsequent graded winners Ginny’s Destiny twice at Cheltenham and Blow Your Wad, and off the same mark here he must hold every chance.

Imperial Bede looks sure to improve as a chaser and was impressive at Southwell but it’s hard to argue that he’s got comparable form to Es Perfecto and he’s off the same mark here. Sheldon (impressive winner last time) Hudson De Grugy (course specialist) both demand respect but the best handicapped rival to the selection could be Nocte Volatus, who’s now 8lbs lower than when finishing fourth last year.

BACK Go Dante to win the 2.25 Sandown 1pt at 6/1 (⭐ ? CLICK TO BET NOW)
BACK Golden Son to win the 3.35 at Sandown 1pt at 11/4 (⭐ ? CLICK TO BET NOW)
BACK Es Perfecto to win the 3.55 at Kempton 1pt at 7/4 (⭐ ? CLICK TO BET NOW)

PROFIT/LOSS (MAR 2024): -10.1 pts



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