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20th January 2021

2020 Imperial Cup Free Tips and Betting Trends

Staged at Sandown racecourse the Imperial Cup in a hurdle race run over 2m 1/2f. Run just days before the start of the Cheltenham Festival the contest always takes has an added interest for punters and trainers as traditionally the race sponsors have traditional put up an extra £50,000 should the winner go onto land any festival race the following week - the 2020 race sponsors are leading bookmaker, Paddy Power.

In recent years that incentive has seen powerful stables like Henderson and Hobbs target the race, but it’s the Pipe yard that hold the best recent record – winning the race four times in the last 15 years and 9 times in all.

The last horses to win the Imperial Cup and then go onto land a Festival race the following week are Olympian (1993), Blowing Wind (1998) and Gaspara (2007). While the 2016 – Flying Angel – only just failed to land the bonus after running second in the Martin Pipe Conditionals race. The last three winners – Malaya, London Prize and Mr Antolini – didn’t go onto run at the Cheltenham Festival.

Here at TQ we take a look back at recent winners and give you all the key stats to take into the 2020 renewal – this year run on Saturday 7th March.

Recent Imperial Cup Winners

2019 - MALAYA (7/1)
2018 - MR ANTOLINI (20/1)
2017 - LONDON PRIZE (10/1)
2016 – FLYING ANGEL (9/1)
2015 – EBONY EXPRESS (33/1)
2014 – BALTIMORE ROCK (7/1)
2013 – FIRST AVENUE (20/1)
2012 – PAINTBALL (20/1)
2011 – ALARAZI (10/1)
2010 – QASPAL (11/4 fav)
2009 – DAVE’S DREAM (12/1)
2008 – ASHKAZAR (10/3 fav)
2007 – GASPARA (11/4 fav)
2006 – VICTRAM (8/1)
2005 – MEDISON (9/2 fav)
2004 – SCORNED (14/1)
2003 – KORELO (9/4 fav)

Imperial Cup Betting Trends and Stats

16/17 – Had won no more than twice over hurdles before
16/17 – Had raced within the last 6 weeks
15/17 – Had won between 1-2 times over hurdles before
15/17 – Carried 10-13 or less
14/17 – Rated 124 or higher
13/17 – Aged 6 or younger
12/17 – Carried 10-7 or less
10/17 – Winners that went onto run at the Cheltenham Festival (1 winner, Gaspara - Fred Winter)
11/17 – Had won over at least 2m1f (hurdles) before
10/17 – Finished in the top two last time out
9/17 – Winning distance – 3 ½ lengths or more
8/17 – Returned a double-figure price in the betting
8/17 – Aged 4 or 5 years-old
6/17 – Raced at either Cheltenham (2), Sandown (2) or Ascot (2) last time out
6/17 – Won last time out
6/17 – French bred
5/17 – Winning favourites
5/17 – Had raced at Sandown (hurdles) before – 2 had won there before
5/17 – Won by the Pipe stable (have won it 9 times in all)
2/17 – Trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies (2 of last 4)
1/17 – Won by an Irish-trained horse
The average winning SP in the last 17 years is 11/1

TQ VERDICT: With a £100k bonus up for grabs here should a horse win this and go onto land any Festival race next week then there is a big carrot for runners. MALAYA (e/w), who won the race last year, will be looking to become the first back-to-back Imperial Cup winner since High Point, who won the race in 1952 and 53 – he didn’t run at the Festival the following week though. He’s rated only 2lbs higher than last year, but will have the useful Bryan Carver in the saddle to claim 5lbs, so is actually slightly better off at the weights than last year, but it is worth noting that he only had 10-2 on his back 12 months ago and will have 11-8 (less 5lbs) this time – I still think last year’s winner has a good chance after running with promising last time out. Nicholls also has Tamaroc Du Mathan in the race. We can probably expect the front-running Totterdown to try and make all but with 11-12 in weight that will be a tough ask in the ground. However, with 15 of the last 17 winners carrying 10-13 or less, then this trend only brings in 7 of the 19 runners – Endlessly, Applesandpierres, Shakem Up’ Arry, Main Fact, Ashington, Aiguille Rouge and Man Of Plenty. Of that bunch the Pipe-trained Main Fact has been popular all week – mainly due to the yard having a top record in the race – they’ve won it 9 times in total. Main Fact has won his last four, including the latest of those at Wetherby only on Monday. He’s up another 4lbs here but jockey Fergus Gillard remains in the saddle to claim 7lbs. He could easily be well ahead of the handicapper still and is entered in the County Hurdle next week at the Festival. However, the value might have gone with him and this will be a much harder test. With that in mind, I’m going to side with the Ben Pauling runner – SHAKEM UP’ARRY – who is owned by a certain Harry Redknapp. He was only 11 lengths behind next week’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner – Shishkin – and that could turn out to be a solid effort. This will only be his fifth career run and after a quiet season so far there are signs the Ben Pauling yard are starting to find their feet again. Mack The Man, Dostal Phil and Sir Valentine are others to consider.

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