Solstice can be the Star again in the Imperial Cup at Sandown

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Time is running out to build up some extra ammo for Cheltenham, and no better place provides that than Sandown Park on Imperial Cup day.

The feature last year saw 33/1 shot Ebony Express lead home another 33/1 chance Rayvin Black leaving those that had backed the winner or the runner-up each-way counting the cash.

There were two 20/1 winners in two of the three years before that, making this race a great one to aim high.

However while our selection still provides a very healthy return, it could pay to take a more measured approach this time round.

Martin Keighley’s Solstice Star is one horse riding a crest of a wave at the moment, winning his last five races.

The Imperial Cup will be his biggest test to date, but there is no getting away from a gelding that is really on the up.

With the ground set to be heavy at Sandown this weekend, it is very encouraging to see that every one of that quintet of triumphs came on testing ground.

And with the most recent two coming at Cheltenham, the uphill finish that he will encounter at the Esher track will bode no problems.

The form of his recent victories looks rock solid too.

In December he defeated Ben Pauling’s A Hare Breath by four-and-a-half length only for that one to come out and dot up at Kempton next time out.

His most recent run saw him get nearly two stone of weight from Philip Hobbs’ Cheltenian but still beat him fairly handily.

He ran from five pounds out of the handicap that day, and while his official mark has gone up seven pounds since then, he’s effectively only two pounds worse off from that day.

The runner-up came out and ran well enough in the Betfair Hurdle, as did Champagne at Tara who was fifth.

Back in third that day was Paul Nicholls’ Frodon who went on to claim the scalp of Fixe Le Kap and cut to 16/1 in the betting for the Triumph Hurdle.

The six-year-old has climbed a whopping 40 pounds in the handicap since he started his winning run and adding a sixth victory will be a big ask, but his trainer has reported that his charge is in good form at home and the current price on offer looks fair enough.

We might not be aiming for another 33/1 Imperial Cup success, but you’re not going to complain if you are left counting the cash if Solstice Star triumphs at around 7/1, are you?

All odds and markets correct as of the date of publishing.

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Ben Stones

Ladbrokes News’ equine expert, Ben likes nothing more than studying the form to pick out a winner or two for our readers. A Journalism and Media Studies graduate from the University of Winchester, Ben has previously written for a number of football and racing blogs and websites, as well as contributing to the sports pages of his home-town newspaper.