Imperial Cup Preview: Tips, Betting Offers and Odds, Sandown, 9 March 2019
The final big jumps race before the Cheltenham Festival jamboree begins is the historic Imperial Cup held at Sandown on the Saturday before the Festival. Look no further for the best odds, offers and betting tips surrounding the race.
First held at Sandown Park way back in 1907, this Grade 3 handicap hurdle is run over a distance of 2m 110yards. The race is always a hotly contested affair and generally attracts a large field of runners, with this year’s renewal no different, and as such we’ve opted for two each way tips.
Imperial Cup Betting Tips 2019
Odds correct at the time of writing and are subject to change.
Imperial Cup Betting Offers
- Offers relating to this race will be posted soon.
- In the meantime, check out all the best racing free bets and the latest Cheltenham Offers.
There aren’t many offers around for this race but there are loads of brilliant betting offers and money back deals for the Cheltenham Festival, which starts on Tuesday 12th March 2019!
Imperial Cup Tips and Preview 2019
The Imperial Cup is the standout race of the weekend before the 2019 Cheltenham Festival. Connections have once again been tempted by the prize purse of £100,000 and this 2 mile handicap hurdle race is shaping up to be as competitive as ever.
Sandown has seen some pretty heavy rain leading up to the race and the forecast suggests it’ll be wet on Saturday. That’s seen a string of bets come in for Extra Mag who has been backed in from 20/1 to 7/1 with some books. Will the gamble land or are the better options to be found?
Soft Ground May Best Suit the Favourite
It’s always worth analysing a gamble such as that which has come in for Extra Mag. The five-year-old has only made two starts in Britain and it’s his win at Exeter which has excited punters ahead of the Imperial Cup.
The thinking is that he will get further than 2 miles and enjoys softer conditions. David Pipe’s five-year-old was probably well worth support at 20/1 but it’s just tough to get too motivated about 7/1 given his limited form. It could be that punters are getting a bit ahead of themselves given the paucity of top class racing ahead of Cheltenham and are maybe overcomplicating things when the Imperial Cup favourite has also shown an aptitude for racing well on soft ground.
Jane Williams’ five-year-old was last seen when justifying his favouritism over course and distance at the start of January. He’ll be met with almost identical underfoot conditions on his return and can score again. Monsieur Lecoq has been penalised for that recent win but is still only carrying 10st which should be nothing to worry about so back him to win at 5/1 with RaceBets.
Benny’s Bridge Another Well Treated Option
Monsieur Lecoq is not the only horse coming into the Imperial Cup on the back of a win. Benny’s Bridge scored last time out at Cheltenham and connections are hopeful of another success at Sandown.
The six-year-old was given a tough test for his first handicap start by his trainer, Fergal O’Brien, but got a fair deal of support in the betting and lived up to the billing by beating the favourite by almost three lengths.
Much like Monsieur Lecoq, Benny’s Bridge looks to have more to offer in these sort of competitive handicaps despite the penalty given to him for that win at Cheltenham. Connections had to cross their fingers and hope that he made the cut for the Imperial Cup but now that his place has been confirmed it’s all systems go with punters nibbling at the 8/1 that BetVictor are quoting. This will require another step up in performance but that’s not outside of the capabilities of Benny’s Bridge so an each way bet is in order.
Previous Race Winners
- 2018 – Mr Antolini – jockey Jamie Bargary, trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies
- 2017 – London Prize – jockey Tom O’Brien, trainer Ian Williams
- 2016 – Flying Angel – jockey Ryan Hatch, trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies
- 2015 – Ebony Express – jockey Will Kennedy, trainer Dr Richard Newland
- 2014 – Baltimore Rock – jockey Tom Scudamore, trainer David Pipe
- 2013 – First Avenue – jockey Nathan Adams, trainer Laura Mongan
- 2012 – Paintball – jockey Noel Fehily, trainer Charlie Longsdon
- 2011 – Alarazi – jockey Dominic Elsworth, trainer Lucy Wadham
- 2010 – Qaspal – jockey Tony McCoy, trainer Philip Hobbs
- 2009 – Dave’s Dream – jockey Barry Geraghty, trainer Nicky Henderson
- 2008 – Ashkazar – jockey Timmy Murphy, trainer David Pipe
- 2007 – Gaspara – jockey Tony McCoy, trainer David Pipe
- 2006 – Victram – jockey Andrew Lynch, trainer Y
Imperial Cup History
Having passed its century of existence in 2007, this event is a well-established part of the jumps racing calendar. Indeed prior to the advent of the Champion Hurdle in 1927, this was the most prestigious race over the smaller obstacles on the fixture list. Having long been a Listed class contest, the race was elevated to Grade 3 status for the first time in 2014.
Given the proximity to the Cheltenham Festival, organisers have added a bonus incentive in order to attract runners to this contest. Any horse that wins the Imperial Cup, and then goes on to land any race at the Cheltenham Festival, will be awarded a bonus of £100,000. Only three horses have achieved this feat to date, all trained by a handler with the surname Pipe. Olympian and Blowing Wind for Martin and Gaspara for his son David.
The Pipes have an enviable record here. David has saddled the only two four-year-olds to win the race in the modern era; 2007 winner Gaspara and 2008 hero Ashkazar. In addition to the aforementioned duo, David Pipe sent out 2014 winner Baltimore Rock. Meanwhile Martin Pipe holds the record for the most wins overall, with six victories between 1989 and 2005.
Sir Tony McCoy of course enjoyed a spectacular run of success with Martin Pipe in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, a golden period which included three wins in this race. Having also won aboard Gaspara for David Pipe and Qaspal in 2010 for Philip Hobbs, McCoy is out in front as the most successful jockey here with five wins.
Historically this race has been the domain of the younger speedier runners. Between 1947 and 2015 there have been just five winners over the age of seven. With only eight flights of hurdles to negotiate and Kempton being a relatively tight track, speed and quick accurate jumping are the order of the day.
Being such a competitive handicap contest, it should come as little surprise that there have been few multiple winners over the years. Secret Service (1949-50) and Highpoint (1952-53) are the only horses to win back to back editions in the modern era. Precious Boy is the most recent dual winner having triumphed in 1991 and 1994 under Lorcan Wyer.
Probably the classiest horse to win here is Jim Old’s Collier Bay. Having achieved very little on the flat for John Gosden, this horse improved markedly for the switch to hurdles. Following his wine in this race in 1995, he then went on to win the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham in 1996.