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Thursday 10 March 2016

15:10, Sandown Park, Imperial Cup, Saturday 12th March

The Imperial Cup Handicap Hurdle, run over a testing 1 mile 7 furlongs and 216 yards at Sandown Park, has actually produced three winning favourites in the last ten years. However, the last of those was Qaspal in 2010 and the five subsequent winners were returned at 10/1, 20/1 (twice), 7/1 and 33/1, so there’s cause for optimism in our search for value. If you're new to betting and looking to secure the best odds, offers and strategies you might want to consult this guide or others like it before placing your bet.

Spice Fair (40/1) is a 9-year-old and ran in a veterans’ handicap hurdle at Newbury last Saturday, but is still technically a novice, having won his first race over obstacles at Market Rasen on Boxing Day. The Trade Fair gelding has only had nine starts under National Hunt rules and has made decent progress, running creditably in defeat off revised marks over 2 miles 3 furlongs at Taunton and 2 miles 4½ furlongs at Newbury since winning, very readily, at Market Rasen. He’s been raised another 3lb, but dropping back to 2 miles on a testing track should do him no harm and he may be capable of upsetting some younger rivals.

Those younger rivals include the 6-year-old Sirop De Menthe (33/1), who chased the suicidal pace set by Debdebdeb over 2 miles 3½ furlongs at Ascot three weeks ago and ultimately paid the price for doing so. The Discover D’Auteuil gelding is inclined to take a keen hold, which is a slight worry, but finished clear of the remainder when a 5-length second to Rayvin Black over course and distance two starts ago and is just 2lb higher in the weights. His regular partner Lucy Gardner has managed to win on him three times, but he looks the type who definitely benefit from stronger handling.

Prairie Town (40/1) won a 0-130 affair over course and distance in November and was far from disgraced when fourth of nine, beaten 5¼ lengths, behind Solstice Star at Cheltenham six weeks ago. He’s 7lb better off with the winner and, having been given time to recover from his Cheltenham exertions, can realistically be expected to finish much closer this time, especially with the return to less testing underfoot conditions also in his favour.

It's the Cheltenham Festival in a couple of days time, so there's bound to be plenty of betting opportunities there too! An exciting week of racing ahead!

Selections: Sandown 3.10 Spice Fair (40/1), Sirop De Menthe (33/1), Prairie Town (40/1)


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