Imperial Cup Odds

Malaya won the 2019 Imperial Cup for Harry Cobden and Paul Nicholls.
Malaya won the 2019 Imperial Cup for Harry Cobden and Paul Nicholls.

The Imperial Cup is a two-mile handicap hurdle run at Sandown Park in early March and is the last major race before the Cheltenham Festival. Horses taking their chance in this race will be hoping to claim glory and then use the win as a stepping stone to Cheltenham glory the following week. You can find the odds for the 2020 Imperial Cup here as soon as they are available.

Imperial Cup Tips

One of the most competitive two-mile handicap hurdles on the calendar, the Imperial Cup winner is often a speedy performer that could be improving up the handicap, and a victory at Sandown will see the winner use the win as a springboard to bigger and better things. You can check out our 2020 Imperial Cup tip here, which will be available in the days leading up to the race.

What is the Imperial Cup?

The Imperial Cup is a hotly-anticipated handicap hurdle that takes place at Sandown Park three days before the Cheltenham Festival. Despite being so close to the main spectacle on the National Hunt calendar, the Imperial Cup is still targeted by all the elite National Hunt trainers, and is tough betting heat for punters.

First run in 1907, the Imperial Cup was regarded as the premier hurdle race on the calendar, but since then has been surpassed by a host of Graded races. However, there's a significant financial carrot dangled for those winning the Imperial Cup, as if the horse can win at Sandown then go on to win at the Cheltenham Festival then there's a bonus put up by the sponsors. Very few have achieved the coveted double.

What happened in the 2019 Imperial Cup?

There was no Imperial Cup in 2020, so we look back on the 2019 renewal where Nicky Henderson's Call Me Lord was the favourite for the race as 13 runners went to post, but the Seven Barrows inmate was only able to finish third, as it was the Paul Nicholls-trained Malaya that reeled in Monsieur Lecoq to claim the Sandown Park win.

Malaya clattered the second last hurdle, and Harry Cobden did well to hold on, but as he got back into full driving mode in the saddle Cobden reeled in Monsieur Lecoq - ridden by Chester Williams - and Malaya pulled clear to win impressively by one-and-a-quarter lengths.

The history of the Imperial Cup

Having been going for over a century the Imperial Cup is steeped in history, and the Sandown Park contest has been a mainstay of the British National Hunt season since the start of the 20th Century. 

With the sponsors now providing an attractive bonus if a horse can win the Imperial Cup and then go on to win at the Cheltenham Festival then it is a race that continues to be the breeding ground for stars. 

The likes of Lanzarote (1973) and Floyd (1985) are two horses on the illustrious roll of honour, while in more recent times there have been three horses to win the Imperial Cup and a race at Cheltenham. Olympian won the 1993 Imperial Cup before going to win the Coral Cup, while Blowing Wind (1998) won the County Hurdle after Imperial Cup success, while Gaspara won this race and the Fred Winter in 2007 for David Pipe.

Who is the most iconic winner of the Imperial Cup?

Jim Old's Collier Bay was a superb winner of the 1995 Imperial Cup, but he went on to much bigger things later in his career, as he stormed to glory in the 1996 Champion Hurdle, so has to be regarded as the most iconic winner of the race.

Are there any trials for the Imperial Cup?

Often seen more as a trial for a Cheltenham Festival race, the Imperial Cup being a handicap hurdle can see potentially progressive, unexposed horses taking on proven handicappers, so it's hard to single out trials in particular that will give clues as to a potential winner of the race.

Who is the most successful jockey in the Imperial Cup?

The legendary AP McCoy is the most successful jockey in the Imperial Cup history as the multiple champion jockey rode the winner five times during his career. He bagged his first win on board Blowing Wind in 1998, while he added to that tally by partnering Polar Red (2002), Korelo (2003), Gaspara (2007) and Qaspal (2010) to victory.

Who is the most successful trainer in the Imperial Cup?

Unsurprisingly, it's Martin Pipe that has the greatest record in the race, as the world class trainer amassed six wins in the race as a trainer bagging his first success in 1989 with Travel Mystery. Olympian was his next winner in 1993, while he then teamed up with AP McCoy with wins with Blowing Wind, Polar Red and Korelo. Medison was to be Pipe's last winner in 2005, but his son David took over the reins at Pond House and has duly continued the fine run of the family name in the race.

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