Betfair Imperial Cup Handicap Hurdle Today

Sandown first due off @15h15 on Saturday

Sandown racecourse hosts this weekend’s Premier Raceday meeting in the UK.

Saturday’s track conditions are likely to remain heavy over the hurdles and soft on the chase course.

Sandown Racecourse finish post

A race with a long and famous history, the two-mile Betfair Imperial Cup Handicap Hurdle (16h25) highlights the seven-race card at the Esher track.

Sixteen runners do battle for the £51,440 first prize with all of Jipcot, Bad, Making Headway and Go Dante holding realistic chances in this competitive handicap.

Sean Bowen rides Go Dante for his stable and this promising eight-year-old looks well handicapped here. The Olly Murphy trained runner finished fourth in Group 1 company earlier in his career, before returning this season with an encouraging sixth in the Greatwood Hurdle, finishing sixth behind the highly rated Iberico Lord.

An easy winner subsequently at Cheltenham, he then finished third to Iberico Lord in last month’s Betfair Hurdle at Newbury. A repeat of that run would put him right in the mix here, particularly if the ground stays on the easier side.

The unexposed Making Headway, who doubled his tally at Newbury four weeks ago looks a fascinating contender now handicapping and could be the biggest threat, with the in-form Ben Pauling’s pair of Bad and Jipcot not lightly dismissed either.

Earlier on the card, Valadon is on course for a hat-trick in the Betfair Racing Podcasts Juvenile Handicap Hurdle. Run over two miles, the eight runners get away at 15h15.

Beaten into second on debut by Cheltenham bound Salver, Valadon has won his two subsequent starts at Exeter and Newbury. The form of his last start was boosted by the runner-up Wreckless Eric going in at Wetherby in late February.

The Harry Fry trained runner receives 3 and 4lb from his chief threats Through The Ages and Castelfort, and that could make all the difference.

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