Sam Turner has been firing in the winners on Saturdays and he previews the live Channel 4 races.
Henry Daly and Dan Skelton appear to hold a decent hand in this event with four solid candidates between them. Likely favourite Two Taffs has been targeted at this race for some time and looks nicely handicapped stepping up in trip, but stablemate Robin Of Locksley will need to settle a little better than he did at Chepstow last time (2m) but a bigger field should assist.
I’m hopeful the winner could hail from South Shropshire though and, although grid links
needs to prove his stamina at today’s trip, he won going away at Towcester last time and has won twice on stiff, right-handed tracks. Henry Daly’s charge has posted a couple of decent circuit times this season and the booking of Richard Johnson appears a statement of intent. Stablemate Will O’The West is another to consider after his game Warwick success.
Flashjack - 1pt e/w @ 14/1
, unbeaten in both starts at this venue, has appeared to be the recipient of some fairly lenient handicapping (raised just 3lb for his win last time, Solar Deity 4th) and could be the answer to a tricky event. The selection appears versatile trip wise and has reportedly had this race as his target for a while.
Bold Prediction (narrow conqueror of Si Senor at Lingfield) is another with a fine course record and maybe dangerous if getting to the front from his wide berth.
Supersta beat subsequent winner Dougan here two starts ago and will appreciate the prospect of a decent gallop, while Keystroke and Energia Flavio should be monitored in the market.
Intrude - 1pt @ 13/2
A point to point winner in his native Ireland, BENENDEN
always appeared the type to improve when tackling three miles. That proved to be the case at Musselburgh back in January when the gelding bolted up on his first start at the trip under rules. Although raised 10lb for that win, there could be more to come from this progressive sort and he clearly goes well right-handed so gains the nod.
Relax was still going well enough when crashing out at Newbury last time and could be considered a little unlucky that day, while the first-time cheekpieces may sharpen the mind of Bertie Boru who has claims providing he doesn’t get too far behind.
Benenden - 1pt @ 7/2
Sovereign Debt beat CHOOKIE ROYALE
in this event 12 months ago (Glen Moss 4th) and, although he had enjoyed the benefit of a recent run prior to scoring, it is only three months since he ran creditably in a French Listed contest.
In contrast, Chookie Royale has been kept busy through the winter and he may appreciate the return to seven furlongs after a series of good efforts over shorter. His course figures read 1112113241. The presence of Kelinni, well draw for a front runner, should ensure there is a decent pace to run at, especially if he is taken on at the head of affairs by recent Lingfield scorer Mister Universe.
Chookie Royale - 1pt e/w @ 7/2
Harry Whittington is swiftly carving out a reputation as a trainer to keep on side and AFFAIRE D’HONNEUR
could strengthen his burgeoning status with victory in today’s Imperial Cup. Unfortunately, the tasty prices available early week regarding the five-year-old’s chance evaporated quicker than support for Louis Van Gaal as punters cottoned on to his unlucky, but gallant performance in the Betfair Hurdle. A restart in the Newbury feature was a new experience for the French recruit who spooked when the tapes went up and found himself in last heading to the first hurdle.
The selection was still occupying that position when turning for home, but picked off rivals to finish a highly-creditable fourth in a race where it paid to sit close to the pace (winner Agrapart and runner-up Starchitect were prominent throughout). Like the last 10 winners of this race, Affaire D’Honneur holds an entry at Cheltenham next week and connections may be tempted to have a tilt at the £100,000 bonus on offer for winning today’s contest and at the festival if he were to prove successful.
Heavy ground lover Sirop De Menthe could also take a hand if he is ridden with a little more restraint than of late.
Affaire D'Honneur - 2pts @ 9/2
is highly rated by connections and has been saved for this race for much of the season. She made short work of her Bangor rivals last November and is reported in good order for her return to the track.
Her rider, Gavin Sheehan, has also ridden Woolstone One to both of her victories and the daughter of Authorized is rated the chief danger, narrowly ahead of Cheltenham Listed bumper winner Copper Kay, who Richard Johnson rates as one of the best mares he has ever sat on.
The Nipper - 1pt e/w @ 5/1