Saturday Horse Racing Tips
William Hill Imperial Cup
It’s Imperial Cup day at Sandown and this year’s renewal looks like one of the strongest for a number of seasons.
Any horse that can win this race and then triumph at next week’s Festival will land a huge bonus and top weight Camping Ground is looking for a unique double as he would attempt to follow up a victory here in a chase at Cheltenham.
He looked a horse to follow when sluicing home on his British debut at Warwick last time out, but ground, obstacles and distance are different today, so he will have to be something special to defy his handicap mark.
Plenty of horses are coming here looking for compensation after failing to trouble the judge in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury last month.
There were plenty of problems in running that day - caused partly by the fall of Chieftain’s Choice - and Wicklow Brave and Arzal were amongst those who were most inconvenienced.
A case can be made for both, and for Fascino Rustico, who fell later in the contest, but it is interesting that Willie Mullins is persisting with Wicklow Brave in these competitive handicaps.
Not much has gone right for him since he was sixth in the Supreme Novices’ last season, but he came in for a lot of support on the afternoon of the Betfair, suggesting connections believe him to be well handicapped and to have a decent prize in him. The drying ground will suit.
The same is true for our other main selection - the novice Some Buckle. He was only just touched off by Glingerburn on his penultimate start and that horse has been going great guns this campaign. He then tackled a Grade 2 at Cheltenham where the 2m 4f trip just seemed to stretch his stamina. He wasn’t beaten far though, so a stiff 2m in a strongly run race should be ideal.
There are a number of interesting outsiders too, including Raven’s Tower and Meadowcroft Boy, but for those looking to smash one of the park ahead of the Festival could do worse than having a few quid each way on Zaidiyn at odds of 33/1 with Bet365 (just 18/1 with the race sponsors William Hill).
His trainer, Brian Ellison, is a man to be feared in big handicaps both over obstacles and on the level and this horse ran an eye catching race in a big handicap at Mussleburgh last time out.
Zaidiyn had useful form on the level in France and is very well bred being a half-brother to Zaidpour and Zaynar. Again, the strong gallop will play to his strengths as Conor O’Farrell should be able to get him nicely settled.
|Some Buckle (ew)||3.10 Sandown
|Wicklow Brave (ew)
William Hill National Hunt Novices Handicap Hurdle Final
Earlier on Sandown’s card is the EBF Final and the step up in trip looks likely to improve Great Try, who can hopefully land another big Saturday race for Paul Nicholls.
He has proved he has plenty of tactical pace with his efforts over 2 miles to date, but he also has winning point to point form over 3m, and he could look well handicapped if eking out improvement now tackling a longer distance over hurdles.
The other one to back is Hello George, who was well backed for the Lanzarote Hurdle at Kempton having run really well in the Ladbroke at Ascot a few weeks earlier. The Lanzarote was the first time he had tackled further than 2m over hurdles, but the ground was very soft that day and if he can replicate the level of form he showed at Ascot now back on better ground he should be in the shake-up.
|Great Try (ew)||2.00 Sandown||13/2
|Hello George (ew)||2.00 Sandown||11/1
EBF Stallions/TBA Mares Standard Open NH Flat Race
The other big field contest is the Listed Mares’ National Hunt Flat Race and we can’t get away from the chances of the favourite - Whistle Dixie. She is closely related to Gold Cup winner Kicking King and Gordon Elliott only ever brings horses over to these big meeting if he thinks they can win. The only concern is the ground - she wouldn’t want it to dry out too much.
Briery Queen and Rose Revived may prove the pick of the home challenge.
|Whistle Dixie (win)||3.45 Sandown||3/1
Given that Bet365 are offering the best odds on all our selections today, it is worth noting that if you back a winner at 4/1 or more in any race televised live on Channel 4 with them, you get a risk free bet to the same stake on the next televised race. If your free bet wins at odds of 4/1 or more you also qualify for a free bet on the next televised race...and so on.
This offer is also worth bearing in mind for next week's Cheltenham Festival, with most races televised on Channel 4.
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