As already alluded to, the highlight is the Imperial Cup at 2.25pm which has attracted a field of 22. The 7/2 favourite is the thoroughly unexposed Balco Coastal who won his first two starts over hurdles, before filling second in a competitive Graded event in January. The six-year-old is now pitched into handicap company for the first time but he does look a leading player. Onemorefortheroad (7/1) was in fine form at the beginning of the year and has had a small break since finishing second in a competitive handicap at Ascot in December. He has to enter calculations for this assessment.
Other notable runners include Hystery Bere (8/1) who was successful at Fontwell in December and shaped with promise at Cheltenham in a competitive handicap in January. Lucky One (11/1) was third in a handicap at Ascot on his latest start and also commands respect, along with Current Mood (16/1) who struck at Chepstow in February. Paul Nicholls has three runners in the race who all look contenders in the shape of Hacker Des Places (14/1), Samarrive (14/1) and Miranda (20/1).
The £80,000 Novices’ Handicap Hurdle Final (1.50pm) is another cracking event which features the thoroughly unexposed Knappers Hill for Paul Nicholls and Thunder Rock who is chasing a four-tiumer. Other unexposed runners include Kingofthewest, Dubrovnik Harry and Jerrash in what looks a wide-open event with 17 runners going to post.
Elsewhere on the card, the Listed £50,000 Paddy Power Novices’ Handicap Chase (3.35pm) looks a cracking event. Killer Kane is deeply respected having bolted up at Kempton last time out, whilst Danny Kirwan also opened his account over fences at Wincanton and is one of two runners for Paul Nicholls along with Flic Ou Voyou. Dorking Lad and Scene Not Hard both come here on the back of victories and complete the field along with Frenchy Du Large.
The Listed Mares’ bumper at 3.00pm is another cracking event. Willie Mullins being over Eabha Grace who won well on debut, before disappointing at Leopardstown in February, but Mullenbeg sets the standard. A dual winner for Milton Harris, he oozed class when scoring in Listed company at Cheltenham in January and looks a leading player.
Other notable runners include Luccia who won on debut for Nicky Henderson and Hidden Beauty who can be forgiven for pulling-up at Cheltenham in January, but had previously impressed at Ffos Las in November.
ITV Racing selections
1.50pm Sandown – Knappers Hill
2.05pm Wolverhampton – La Tihaty
2.25pm Sandown – Onemorefortheroad
2.40pm Wolverhampton – Tinker Toy
3.00pm Sandown – Mullenbeg
3.15pm Wolverhampton – Make A Stand
3.35pm Sandown – Dorking Lad