ITV Racing Tips: Ex-Royal runner Natural History out to deliver Imperial Cup cheer
There could be some Cheltenham Festival betting money to be won this weekend when the Imperial Cup at Sandown takes centre.
While keeping one eye on what’s coming next week, there is a warm-up programme on ITV which is showing four jumps races from Sandown, plus three all-weather contests from Wolverhampton.
There are no big names running but it will be a chance to see who’s hot, and who’s not, ahead of the all important four-day bonanza that is Cheltenham.
It will all unfold on ITV4, from 1.30pm
We’ve previewed the three most significant races of the day in our ITV Racing Tips.
Perhaps not a race to stake big in with 18 runners set to go post in what looks a wide open heat.
With many last time out winners and five beaten favourites last time, a case can be made for nearly every horse in the field.
The David Pipe-trained top weight Martinhal is also engaged in next week’s Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Hurdle, the type of challenge this stable traditionally thrives on.
The horse has shown significant improvement since undergoing wind surgery, winning twice at Exeter, the first at the expense of Karl Philippe, with Gladiateur Allen third and both are in opposition again here.
Karl Philippe went on to win his next start by ten lengths, showing improved form to score easily and getting 3lb off Martinhal may have the edge this time.
It’s been a tough week for the Royals but it could end on a better note, at least for the Queen, if Natural History lands the Imperial Cup.
The Queen-bred Natural History, who was Group placed on the Flat last year when trained by Andrew Balding, but instead of keeping the horse for jumping she instead banked 105,000gns from his sale to Gary Moore.
After two seconds for Moore, he got off the mark over hurdles with plenty to spare in a handicap at Plumpton.
His punishment for winning by 15 lengths was a 16lb rise in the handicap but he could still have more to offer off his new mark at Sandown where good to soft ground will suit him better than the softer conditions he encountered on his first two appearances.
Keep an eye on Nigel Twiston-Davies. He has won this race twice in the last four years and he runs One True King, who has finished out of the three only once in seven starts this term.
A reminder that the Flat Turf season is a mere fortnight away with this warm-up for the Lincoln Handicap itself at Doncaster.
Like the Lincoln, it looks pretty competitive, boasting plenty with chances including Tadleel whose improved all-weather form will be put to the test at Wolverhampton on his first start here for Richard Fahey.
Unbeaten at Newcastle, he returns to 1m under the apprentice find of the winter Laura Pearson. Pearson is recently back from taking a month off to preserve her claim for the turf campaign, so her 5lb allowance here is unlikely to be wasted.
Another to bear in mind is the admirable Oh This Is Us who by rarely running a bad race has amassed nearly £650,000 in prize-money. He could finish in the money again on his first start of the year under claimer Luke Catton.
ITV Racing Schedule, Saturday 13th March
13:50 Sandown – EBF Novices’ Handicap Hurdle Final
14.05 Wolverhampton – Lady Wilfruna Stakes
14.25 Sandown – Imperial Cup
14:40 Wolverhampton – Lincoln Trial
15.00 Sandown – EBF Mares’ NH Flat Race
15.15 Wolverhampton – Handicap
15.35 Sandown – Novices’ Handicap Chase
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.