2018 Imperial Cup Free Tips and Betting Trends
Sandown Horse Racing Tips and Trends
Staged at Sandown racecourse the Imperial Cup in a hurdle race run over 2m 1/2f. Run just days before the start of the Cheltenham Festival the contest always takes has an added interest for punters and trainers as traditionally the race sponsors – this year Matchbook – put up an extra £50,000 should the winner go onto land any festival race the following week.
In recent years that incentive has seen powerful stables like Henderson and Hobbs target the race, but it’s the Pipe yard that hold the best recent record – winning the race four times in the last 13 years and 9 times in all.
The last horses to win the Imperial Cup and then go onto land a Festival race the following week are Olympian (1993), Blowing Wind (1998) and Gaspara (2007). While last year’s winner – Flying Angel – only just failed to land the bonus after running second in the Martin Pipe Conditionals race. The 2017 winner – London Prize – didn’t run at the Festival that year.
Here at JUICESTORM we take a look back at recent winners and give you all the key stats to take into the 2018 renewal – this year run on Saturday 10th March.
Recent Imperial Cup Winners
2017 – LONDON PRIZE (10/1)
2016 – FLYING ANGEL (9/1)
2015 – EBONY EXPRESS (33/1)
2014 – BALTIMORE ROCK (7/1)
2013 – FIRST AVENUE (20/1)
2012 – PAINTBALL (20/1)
2011 – ALARAZI (10/1)
2010 – QASPAL (11/4 fav)
2009 – DAVE’S DREAM (12/1)
2008 – ASHKAZAR (10/3 fav)
2007 – GASPARA (11/4 fav)
2006 – VICTRAM (8/1)
2005 – MEDISON (9/2 fav)
2004 – SCORNED (14/1)
2003 – KORELO (9/4 fav)
Imperial Cup Betting Trends and Stats
15/15 – Had won no more than twice over hurdles before
14/15 – Had won between 1-2 times over hurdles before
14/15 – Had raced within the last 6 weeks
13/15 – Carried 10-13 or less
12/15 – Aged 6 or younger
12/15 – Rated 124 or higher
10/15 – Carried 10-7 or less
10/15 – Winners that went onto run at the Cheltenham Festival (1 winner, Gaspara – Fred Winter)
10/15 – Had won over at least 2m1f (hurdles) before
9/15 – Winning distance – 3 ½ lengths or more
9/15 – Finished in the top two last time out
7/15 – Aged 4 or 5 years-old
7/15 – Returned a double-figure price in the betting
6/15 – Raced at either Cheltenham (2), Sandown (2) or Ascot (2) last time out
6/15 – Won last time out
5/15 – Winning favourites
5/15 – French bred
5/15 – Had raced at Sandown (hurdles) before – 2 had won there before
5/15 – Won by the Pipe stable (have won it 9 times in all)
1/15 – Won by an Irish-trained horse
The average winning SP in the last 15 years is 10.5/1
JUICESTORM VERDICT: Another superb renewal of the Imperial Cup – a race that for many indicates the Cheltenham Festival is now just around the corner! This competitive handicap has always been staged on final Saturday before the Cheltenham Festival and with an added cash bonus for the winner of this that goes onto land ANY Festival race that same season has given the contest an added incentive for connections.
This year the sponsors – Matchbook – are upping the kitty too either by increasing the bonus to a whopping £100k. That move has attracted a decent field of 17 as connections look to become the first horse since Gaspara pocketed the bonus – this David Pipe-trained runner took this in 2007 before adding the Fred Winter a week later.
Olympian (1993) & Blowing Wind (1998) are others do the double – they were also trained by the Pipes!
In fact, the Pipe’s have won the race a record-breaking 9 times in total and four times in the last 13 years – with the most recent of those Baltimore Rock in 2014.
With their decent record anything they run must be respected. They’ve just the one runner this year – FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHT – but this 5 year-old certainly looks to have a decent chance. Those against the Pipe horse might cling to the fact the stable are having a quiet season (just 26 winners).
This 5 year-old is still to finish out of the first three from 5 hurdles starts and comes here off an excellent second at Ascot last time. The winner that day was another horse in the race called LE PATRIOTE but the Pipe runner only needs to find a length on that form. He’s also 3lbs better off this time, while the drop back to 2m should also help. The pair were 6 lengths clear of the others that day too, which indicates the form is above average and really pinning your cash to both this pair should give us a decent run for our money.
Friday Night Light and Le Patriote both currently have entries in the County Hurdle and Martin Pipe Conditonal Jockeys’ Handicap at the Festival next week.
Of the rest, it’s slightly surprisingly the Nicky Henderson stable have only won the Imperial Cup once before (2009) but it looks like they are going all out this year with two leading hopes. Call Me Lord and Whatswrongwithyou have been popular in the betting since the entries came out and it’s easy to see why. Call Me Lord was a good winner over course and distance in January, and it’s been no secret the Henderson yard think he’ll turn out to be better than a handicapper. There were even Champion Hurdle thoughts at one stage. A recent third in the Grade Two Kingwell Hurdle sort of backs that thinking up and when he won over course and distance he carried 11-12 so is capable of lumping the weight round.
For me, I’d just be a bit concerned this is a better-looking race than the one he landed here in January, while it’s interesting 13 of the last 15 winners of this carries 10-13 or less.
Their other runner – Whatswrongwithyou – gets in with 10-13 thanks to Call Me Lord being in the race. This 7 year-old has done little wrong of late and heads here having won his last two. He’s up just 6lbs from his handicap debut victory at Newbury last month and has also run well over this course and distance (2nd) before. He’s a big player on what we’ve seen and for a 7 year-old he’s actually very lightly-raced with only three hurdles runs. If you are looking for something to take him on with then 12 of the last 15 winners of this were aged 6 or younger.
Fidux and Highway One O One are others that a case can be made for but I have to give a mention to the 9 year-old GASSIN GOLF. Yes, if you like your stats then he’ll need to defy a few – especially with his age as we’ve only seen one horse older than 8 win this since 1984. However, this is a race he’s gone well in before and, more importantly, he seems to love it here at Sandown.
His form at the Esher track reads 2-3-10-3-3, which is decent. Yes, he was down the field in the race 12 months ago, but he was also runner-up in 2014 and third in 2015. He’s also racing off a mark of 126 this Saturday, which is 7lbs lower than last year. Jockey Richard Patrick continues in the saddle and takes off handy 5lbs so if you are looking for something at a bigger price then you can’t go too far wrong with this proven performer in the race.