Imperial Cup Day at Sandown starts with a juvenile handicap hurdle and I well remember presenting connections of Sire De Grugy with the Trophy for the Grade 1 Tingle Creek at the Esher track back in 2015.
Trainer Gary Moore loves to have winners here and won this corresponding race two years ago. He saddles top-weight Hudson De Grugy (1.15) this afternoon who is closely related to Sire De Grugy and won over C&D on heavy ground here back in January. The selection – 11/8 with William Hill – did win a Bumper in his native France on good ground so there should be no excuse on account of underfoot conditions.
Nicky Henderson saddles two in the valuable 2m 3f novice handicap hurdle and stable jockey Nico De Boinville prefers hat-trick seeking Patroclus to Captain Morgs (1.50), but I hope he is on the wrong one. The ew selection – 10/1 with 10bet 4 places or 9s Boylesports 5 places – jumped right at Fakenham last time behind Shang Tang who is high on my list for the Coral Cup at Cheltenham next week but is unlikely to get a run. Captain Morgs looked to be getting the better of the argument with Ajero – now rated 133 – at Kempton back in November when he swerved left after the last and he certainly has his quirks – but he does have his fair share of ability.
Everything that could go wrong for Gladiateur Allen at Ascot last time did go wrong and I remain convinced that he is potentially well treated at present. The Jane Williams yard had a well punted winner at Wincanton on Thursday.
The Imperial Cup has been dominated in the antepost lists by two unexposed types and both have very good claims.
Langer Dan went into many notebooks when making eye-catching late headway at Market Rasen last time having travelled wide throughout. The Dan Skelton trained 5-y-old has been ridden by Bridget Andrews in all three starts so far this term, but Harry Skelton takes over this afternoon for the first time since last season’s Cheltenham Festival. He must go close as must Natural History who did us a favour when enjoying the better ground at Plumpton on his handicap debut last time. He has been raised 16lbs for that effort but, taking his flat ability into calculations, could still be well ahead of the handicapper. He is short enough in the betting at 11/4, however.
The outsider of the 15-runner field is Hang In There (2.25) who has dropped to a favourable mark following a couple of indifferent rounds of jumping at Newbury over 2m 4f and latterly at Kempton over Christmas. Emma Lavelle has her string in excellent form and the selection had bits of form as a novice which suggest he could be well treated at present. At 25/1 with Boylesports 4 places he gets the each way vote.
High Up In The Air has won his last five over fences but is 9lbs higher than when scoring at Fontwell last time when the ground was too soft for the runner up Ashutor. Admiral Barratry (3.35) lost nothing in defeat when beaten less than a length by Fire Away at Fakenham last time trying to give the winner 21lbs and the latter was a facile winner from a 13lb higher mark at Catterick earlier in the week. A 4lbs rise for the selection seems fair although I do remember the horse hanging badly left at Kempton over hurdles one day when he threw away a winning opportunity. This is his first race right-handed over fences. The ew recommendation is 5s with BetVictor.
Go Steady did us a favour at Huntingdon last month but the handicapper has had his say and he is 9lbs higher in a much deeper race. Five Star Getaway (4.45) has been raised 11lbs for winning at Wincanton earlier in the month and he was taken out of a race at Exeter earlier in the week to wait for today’s engagement. Nick Schofield takes over in the saddle and the jockey could do with a Saturday winner having been quiet since returning from a serious injury in recent weeks. The selection is 3s with William Hill who are the only firm with prices at the time of posting.