There’s no big chase for me to attack tomorrow so I thought i’d share my Imperial Cup preview from my Members’ post, and as it’s been up since lunchtime I may as well email it out now.
Below you can find my tips, and at the bottom my stats/trends profile for the race, and the stats shortlist, which you can use to help with your own punting. Maybe the winner is there somewhere.
Call Me Lord – 1 point win – 8/1 (Lad/BetfS/PP/Boyle/888)
Solomon Grey – 1 point win – 14/1 (non runner sadly)
as of 12.58 Friday, write up…
Call Me Lord – this one would be a stats buster of sorts but at 8s I wanted to have a go. He races here off top weight, as he did in this last year when going down close home, the front two miles clear. The winner that day raced wider, possibly on the better part of the track, and then carried him across the track to the rail. It was a brave effort. On only the 11th start of his life, and 8th in the UK, I think there’s every chance he’s even better than last year- well, on the figures he’s an 8lb better horse. He’s a winning machine, 5/10 in his career to date, unplaced just the twice, and he is just all class. No horse in the last 22 years has run in this rated higher than 152, so some of the stats have to be treated with caution. There are 4/5 places available in many places but as is my want i’ve gone on the nose. I don’t think he’ll be out of the places and whatever finishes ahead of him wins I think. This is a Grade 2, verging on a G1 horse in a handicap, one where there could still be more to come. He’s 3/4,4p at Sandown, this is his track, and I can only assume this has been the plan for the red hot Nicky Henderson team. On his final run last season he demolished a field of 150+ horses and made them look like trees. He returned at Ascot in the JLT hurdle over 24f where he was badly hampered early, had to come from further back than idea, travelled into it two out where he was carried violently to his right, probably losing 15+ lengths as the others were quickening up. He may have needed it also and may not have stayed. He seems to travel at the same pace whatever the trip and in this ground, with plenty of pace on paper to sit behind, he should go very well here- IF running his race/luck in running of course. I just had visions of one of those great handicap weight carrying performances and him demolishing this lot! At 8s i’ll pay to find out, but for those of you who prefer EW, I wouldn’t put you off. I can’t see him not placing here. I think he will run up to his mark, which means the rest have to find plenty, which some may do…
Solomon Grey – one from the stats/trends shortlist and he’s the one I like most at the prices. I do have a concern about the ground, which will be very testing I think. Connections have always made noises that they think he’s best on decent ground, but a couple of his best runs have been on soft – and at 14s I was happy to pay to find out. Because of that going doubt I don’t think he’s an EW option – if he handles it he should be bang there, if he doesn’t then he isn’t getting home. He is lightly raced and the yard enjoy targeting decent handicap hurdles. He ran well in The Lanzarote when last seen, where i tipped him (to win only of course!), just outpaced by one after the last, but he kept on. That was also his first run in a tongue tie, which is retained. Lord Napier was behind him that day and he’s since hacked up in a decent handicap and the form, as it often does in that race, has a solid feel about it. In his novice days he was chasing home If The Cap Fits who’s now rated 155 and went close in the G2 National Spirit at Fontwell recently. I’ve no doubt this one will show himself to be well handicapped at some point soon, it’s just a question of when – it could be he’s one for Aintree or Ayr on better ground- maybe he’ll be their Scottish Champion Hurdle horse, a handicap they’ve done well in from memory. He’s a strong travelling sort who clearly stays further, no bad thing here, but has plenty of pace to aim at. The early skirmishes will prove telling but if he’s travelling well, with Harry back on, then he should play a part up the straight. 14s was just big enough to tempt be in. Given the ground niggle I wouldn’t have touched him at single figure odds I don’t think.
Of the rest…well as always time for that clapped out RTP cliche – ‘i may not have mentioned the winner!’…
Monsieur Lecoq… I think he’s the right fav here and I wouldn’t put anyone off a saver say, if that’s your thing. I mean at 5s with 5 places, i’d be in total shock if he wasn’t near to the podium. He does feel the right price but he’s ever so progressive and may handle conditions better than some of the others around him in the market. Clearly track and trip are fine. What interested me is that the time of his win here LTO was near identical to the time of last year’s race, which Call Me Lord contested as above. It would indicate that he’s probably well handicapped still and he could be a graded horses in the making, who knows. He is inexperienced though especially for a big field like this and he’s had a break – he’ll be fit, but it’s not impossible he’s fresh/takes a pull, and that could cost him at the death. It could be nonsense of course but i’d have preferred Lizzy on. Chester is ok, but a race in these conditions, with this many runners etc, is a hard task for a 7lb claimer. That claim may help him scoot home but he’s been found in the market and I couldn’t tip him given I think he’s the right price, and I really need to stop dipping under 8/1 in these big Saturday handicaps. Were he 8s+ then he’d have been tipped, and i may have gone 3 handed.
I can leave Malaya at those odds, given she can take a tug, can hit a hurdle and I assume may be held up out the back, ridden cold. So she will need luck albeit on paper it’s hard not to anticipate a pace collapse here. She may travel like the winner but can be keen, and at 6s there just wasn’t enough there for me. I’d prefer the Williams horse for sure, who should race closer to the pace. In this going it’s always hard to make up ground from too far back, unless you’re chucked in/all class.
Dream Du Grand Val -he’s short enough given his best form in the UK/his improvement, appears to have come on a sounder surface and at this price I think you want a proven mudlark – he isn’t 14s. I have concerns over him getting home, and of course he needs to take a step forward I think, I’m not sure as to the level of his form as yet, but he’s clearly a nice horse in the making.
Benny’s Bridge is a danger- one of those at 8s, which has me on the fence a tad – i think he’s still well handicapped but this is a very deep race much deeper than LTO- that Chelt race fell apart a bit, they went hard and went too soon, and he received a decent ride cutting through them like a hot knife through butter (is anyone playing cliche bingo, full house soon :)) – he was ridden that way because he’s still keen but if he settles here off this pace (may ride him handier now he has experience) he could be a danger. He is out of the handicap and bottom/joint bottom weights haven’t won this in the last decade, and others have achieved more so far. Testing enough ground is a question for him also but I could see him slicing through them. I couldn’t be tempted in at 8s, and at the same price preferred the classier performer. I may have that wrong, but will cope with it.
Extra Mag is interesting because of connections and their record in this race but he’s hard to weigh up and everything above him in the market, and indeed a couple below, have achieved much more so far, yet are also open to improvement. It would be some performance to go from C4 novices to taking this race. Clearly one to track if he does!
First Flow… he’s interesting, i’ve no doubt he’s well handicapped, has class, and will relish conditions. And the yard are flying. But I’m not taking single figures in a race like this given it’s his first run for 361 days and he makes handicap debut, of which the stats could be better as per below. He can beat me at those odds and credit to Kim Bailey if he does.
I’ll be mildly surprised/bemused if something else takes this. I should mentionSperedek who is on the stats shortlist at 20s. I know what happens now 🙂 Gulp. He’s been over fences for a while and given his crashing fall LTO this may be a run to boost his confidence. He isn’t going to get an easy lead here I don’t think, may not have the pace for this test over hurdles, and while his chase form is decent (but mainly in small fields), and he is well handicapped on that basis, his hurdles form before going chasing was only OK. I’d like to think one of the more progressive/lightly raced ones will have his measure here, but he may give it a good go from the front. He has nothing on his back with the 10lb claim and is maybe no forlorn hope to grab a place. I’ll be sitting in contemplative silence for 30 mins or so if he wins! (I think Chubnut fancies his chances at the price)
PACE… Totterdown / Our Merlin / Speredek all like to make all/push the pace hard. They don’t seem to know how to race any other way! I think this will be truly run. Monsieur Lecoq should track, as may First Flow and a few others, including Solomon Grey. Daryl may be more patient on mine but over this trip, given his class, I suspect he may have him just behind the pace, hopefully. Dream Du Grand Val made all LTO but i’d be surprised if they tried that again in this race.
So, that’s that. Happy with the picks at the prices and it would be welcome if one of them could fall in. We shall see if i’ve read them, and the dangers, correctly.