It’s that time of year already. The Cheltenham Festival starts on Tuesday and I’ll be blogging selections daily so make sure you check the site for tips and winners! For live coverage I should hopefully be running the @ByTheMinRacing twitter feed (definitely on Tuesday and Wednesday) if not my own (@m_kirby95).
Enough of that and today’s action, which sees the Imperial Cup at Sandown and a Lincoln Trial on the tapeta surface at Wolverhampton.
Aigle De La See (11/2) is another Simon Munir and Isaac Souede horse (you’ll hear more of them in the Triumph Hurdle next week) and is a French import that makes you sit up and take note. The grey gelding won over course and distance on his British racing debut and won again last month on dead ground at Ffos Las by 10l. On his debut he beat Monbeg Theatre by ½l who re-opposes him here today. The selection tracked the leading pair in midfield and jumped fluently before beating Monbeg Theatre, who when in front, jumped poorly and tired. A repeat performance of that wouldn’t be a surprise with Aigle De La See going off with the same mark as his previous win while Monbeg Theatre has gone up after by 6lb for that second. Kilgeel Hill at a double figure price could fill a place. He goes off a mark of 125, which he won off last time out over a further trip and he was on this mark when third to Caracci Apache. Despite the step-up to graded company he should handle the trip and the Sandown track.
2:50 Wolverhampton: Lincoln Trial
The last five winners have carried between 9-1 to 9-7, which would rule out half of this ten-runner field including my selection Halation (6/1). Trainer David Simcock trained the winner of this race last year in Whispering Warrior and he can repeat that feat with Halation. Apprentice Tom Marquand is on-board claiming 7lbs and has impressed me when I’ve seen him ride previously. Despite having the widest draw in stall ten he can overcome that if settled into the race in mid-division like he was last time out when winning by a head at Lingfield. Mindurownbusiness looks too short after going up 7lbs for his success last time out. Pearl Nation looks the danger if he can overcome the hike in the weights after winning two of his last three, the last of which came over course and distance. Solar Deity hasn’t won since November 2013 and it would take something special (a career best) with Ryan Moore to win this.
3:10 Sandown: Imperial Cup
Just a bit of history about the race first up. First ran back in 1947 and in recent times has seen some good horses taking part. In 2012 Sire De Grugy was third, he last year won the Champion Chase at Cheltenham and will be going for number two on Wednesday while last year Vibrato Valtat was third and he is England’s best chance of beating Un De Sceaux in the Arkle on Tuesday. Now onto today’s renewal!
24 runners go to post for this year’s Imperial Cup so good luck finding the winner. For me Arzal (12/1) is the one after his sixth place in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury last month. He was badly hampered by the fall of Fascino Rustico and did well to finish where he did. He was beaten by Jollyallan at Kempton on Boxing Day but that is no disgrace as the Harry Fry horse is set for the Supreme Novices on Tuesday (Race One of Cheltenham.) Paul O’Brien is on-board again claiming 7lbs, which should help off a mark that remains unaltered (139). On his debut he beat West Wizard who is well fancied for this one today after being dropped 4lbs for his disappointing second after pretty much throwing it away after a poor jump at the last. Jumping can be hit and miss therefore one at a single figure price I couldn’t trust. Tom Scudamore and David Pipe won the race last year with Baltimore Rock and team up again with the unbeaten four-year-old Bidourey. It was Pipe who trained the last four-year-old winner in 2008 with Ashkazar. Bidourey has won his last two races by a combined total of 26l and that sees his mark at 140. For a first attempt in Handicap Company that is probably too high. Mention has to go to last year’s second and perennial second Gassin Golf who has a fine record of finishing second rather than winning. AP McCoy goes on Zip Top in his final Imperial Cup and off relatively little weight and a mark of 129 he has every chance of making it a sixth win in the race. He was behind Arzal at Kempton on Boxing Day and being given weight is definitely on to watch on the market.
Let me know your selections for today and Cheltenham by tweeting me @m_kirby95
Best of Luck!