The Imperial Cup at Sandown is the final main handicap race before the Cheltenham Festival and many trainers have horses laid out for a potential bonus if they can go on and be successful at Cheltenham.
As per normal this preview will look at the trends and stats of the race and we will try and find some value ahead of one of the busiest weeks in the calendar.
The last horses to win the Imperial Cup and then go on to land a festival victory were Olympian (1993) and Gaspara (2007). The last two winners – London Prize and Mr Antolini didn’t go on to run at the Cheltenham Festival.
* 11/12 Had at least three runs that season
* 10/12 Ran in the last 36 days
* 10/12 Rated 126 or higher
* 9/12 Aged between 4-6
This horse has the perfect profile for the race for me. He is very lightly raced but his run at Cheltenham last time was very eye-catching.
Check out the fourth approaching the last here – Benny's Bridge runs out a remarkable winner of the finale at @CheltenhamRaces under an inspired @PaddyBrennan81 for @FOBRacing pic.twitter.com/g141mXLWQr
— Racing TV (@RacingTV) January 26, 2019
Paddy Brennan took a wide course throughout, good headway going to two out and stayed on up the Cheltenham hill to win going away.
Sandown is a stiff uphill finish and I think the way that this horse travels he is cracking each way value this weekend.
Fergal O Brien is a very shrewd trainer who will be looking at the bonus being offered to win at Cheltenham and this is what we need to take into consideration.
He has gone up 9lb in the ratings for that win and even off 129 I think he can be very competitive. His mark could well end up in the 140s later in the season should he continue to progress. He has had four runs this season which fits in nicely with our trends and I don’t think the ground will be much of an issue this weekend.
Bennys Bridge at 7/1
On a line of form through Bennys Bridge, Our Merlin is a massive price for this weekend.
He led narrowly in that race going to two out and then unfortunately fell. His rating has stayed the same off 127.
His run before that is the most noticeable for me. He was beaten nine lengths behind Monsieur Lecocq who is antepost favourite for this race.
Our Merlin gave Monsieur Lecocq 6lb that day and they both race off 10 stone tomorrow yet one is at the forefront of the market and the other is at the bottom end.
His run before that was very good also as the horse that he beat, Snapdragon Fire has come out and won since and the third horse in that race, Darling Maltaix has also won since.
His course form is not bad either with two runs yielding two second places. A reverse forecast might be the way to play this weekend as both trainers will be looking towards the Cotswolds next week with their horses.
Our Merlin at 33/1