Saturday selections: Mint Imperial

sandownIT SHOULD be the calm before the Cheltenham storm. But today’s Sandown meeting is anything but. The Paddy Power Imperial Cup is typically competitive while the EBF Final is laden with quality beasts and would not be out of place at the Festival itself. Three of this site’s Horses To Follow are among the 18 runners for the EBF Final, which has been won down the years by some real good horses.

EDMUND KEAN, WHISPER and MANY CLOUDS are among today’s market leaders and all look like embryonic chasers. Preference is for Edmund Kean who has won his last two races with a bit in hand. If he does oblige, I wouldn’t be totally shocked if he runs again on Friday in the Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham, a race his trainer David Pipe will be very keen to win.

Yesterday I took the 28/1 (each-way) that was fleetingly on offer by Sportingbet for VALDEZ in the Imperial Cup. The price didn’t last long but he is still decent value. Alan King has opted to run today rather than the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle on Tuesday and Valdez should be suited by the likely end-to-end gallop. Hopefully Wayne Hutchinson can settle him and switch him off as he can be a bit keen. Valdez also retains an entry in the County Hurdle!

King unveils an interesting recruit in the listed mares’ bumper in Our Pollyanna. She was bought by Medermit’s owners after winning an Irish bumper last time on heavy ground and carries stable confidence. But preference is for David Pipe’s CENTASIA, another of this blog’s list horses. She is a big, scopey mare and will relish every yard of the trip and the uphill finish.

One more to note: at Chepstow SARANDO has showed signs of a return to form in his last two runs and is worth close scrutiny in the 3m handicap hurdle at 3.05pm. He ran well at Bangor last time and could get competitive today if ridden with a little more restraint.

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