The Imperial Cup runs at 15.10, this Saturday 7th March at Sandown and is a great way to start getting in the mood for the upcoming Cheltenham Festival which starts on Tuesday 10th March.
This Grade Three handicap is run over a distance of slightly more than two miles, has been run since 1907 and sees the field take on eight hurdles. With the ground drying out we should see a decent contest and with many of the field set to line-up at Cheltenham just a few days later this is a great chance to have a final look at how your various picks are getting on.
Last year Baltimore Rock won when carrying 10-12 and no winner has carried a heavier weight since AP McCoy steered Korelo to victory back in 2003, with most winners in that time carrying 10-7 or less. There is no major age trend to follow, although five-year-olds probably do best overall and this year’s renewal looks relatively open, with a good case to be made for several of the runners.
With a race that seems so hard to predict, the promotion that Vernons are offering could be a great way to hedge your bets somewhat. Place a win single using real cash on the winner of the Imperial Cup and if your selection finishes second, third or fourth Vernon’s will refund your losing bet as a freebie to be used on the Coral Cup at Cheltenham (on Wednesday 11th March). The maximum refund/free bet is £50 and so this is certainly a useful offer in a race where calling the winner will be no mean feat.
The insurance of a free bet if you come close but not quite land the winner adds a lot of extra value to using Vernons for this race but, of course, to really profit you want to be backing the winner. Tough though it is to predict who will triumph in this year’s Imperial Cup, our money has to be on the Irish horse Snake Eyes, trained by Nicky Henderson, who saddled the winner in this one in 2009 with Dave’s Dream.
Snake Eyes is carrying 10-4, is priced at odds of 9/1 and is owned by JP McManus. A poor showing last time out has seen him well handicapped but this course and distance winner looks great value to us and should at least earn a place – and therefore a free bet – if he doesn’t quite go all the way.