Imperial Cup Entries: 35 horses entered for valuable Sandown prize

A competitive field will bid for Imperial Cup glory on Saturday
A competitive field will bid for Imperial Cup glory on Saturday

Last year's winner Langer Dan is among the 35 horses entered for Saturday's Imperial Cup at Sandown Park, which is always a hugely competitive betting heat for punters, and the 2022 renewal is set to be equally as tough to decipher...

While one eye is firmly fixed on next week's Cheltenham Festival, the Imperial Cup has proven to be a hugely popular 2m handicap hurdle at Sandown, and some have targeted the race as a springboard to glory at the festival, and this year's event could prove no different.

Dan Skelton's Langer Dan was a facile winner of the Imperial Cup last season, before he lined up as a well-backed contender in the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle, but he could only finish second behind this year's star novice chaser Galopin Des Champs. Dropped 3lb for a run at Taunton last month, Langer Dan could run off 137 here, but a victory here will see his mark rise for Cheltenham, and thus make his task of winning twice in a week more difficult. Entered in both the Coral Cup and Martin Pipe, Langer Dan is as short as 5/1 for the latter, so it will be fascinating to see whether the Skelton team let him line up for this £56k first prize.

Jonjo O'Neill's Anyharminasking has been hugely progressive this season notching up a brace of wins on the bounce, and the Jackdaws Castle inmate is another that could take his chance at Cheltenham next week - where he is a 12/1 chance for the County Hurdle - but if he were to line up here then he would have to come under consideration.

Paul Nicholls trained Malaya to victory in this race back in 2019 and the Ditcheat handler could unleash a three-pronged attack with Miranda, Hacker Des Places and Samarrive all potential runners, while the aforementioned Skelton could not only run Langer Dan, but also the hat-trick-seeking duo of Our Jet and West To The Bridge. Skelton, in fact, holds seven of the 35 entries.

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Cheltenham Festival 2022

Wins at Leicester and Ludlow have catapulted Kim Bailey's Mr Grey Sky up the handicap, but he will need to produce a career best in his toughest race to date, while another that could head to Sandown in excellent form and look to continue the winning thread is the Philip Hobbs-trained Monviel, who won a novices' hurdle at Sandown Park last time out, and could look to return to that venue this weekend.

A brace of wins at Wetherby has seen Olly Murphy's No Risk Des Flos steadily rise through the handicap, and he could be another in-form contender lining up at Sandown Park this weekend, as the final big National Hunt fixtures takes place before four spectacular days of National Hunt action light up Prestbury Park next week. 

Others that catch the eye in the list of entries include the  Emmett Mullins-trained Carrarea, Neil King's Onemorefortheorad and Nicky Henderson's Balco Coastal, who failed in a bid for three wins on the bounce when finishing behind North Lodge in a Grade 2 at Cheltenham last time out. The Seven Barrows inmate is another well fancied for the County Hurdle and Martin Pipe next week, so it will be interesting to see whether he lines up.

Cheltenham Tips
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