Extra, Extra in Imperial Cup

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The biggest week in jump racing starts here. But, before Cheltenham, we have a busy afternoon of racing on Saturday, with the highlight the Imperial Cup at Sandown Park.

Extra Mag, 2.25 Sandown @ 8/1

This a race that the Pipe’s have targeted religiously down the years, with son David building on the excellent record of his father, Martin, in the Grade 3 handicap. Pipe Jnr has brought this prize to Pond House three times already and might just do so again with Extra Mag.

He looked set to make a winning start at Wetherby in November only to stumble after the last and unseat Tom Scudamore. He made up for that by winning as expected next time at Exeter and then found only one too strong under his penalty at Kempton at the end of January.

He may have run into a good one there, with Precious Cargo an easy winner over this C&D on Friday afternoon, so the fact that Extra Mag ran him close when conceding 7lb bodes well.

The cheekpieces are added to his attire now and there is surely more improvement to come. At an each-way price, Extra Mag looks to hold strong claims of enhancing the strong track record of his trainer in the Imperial Cup.

The Knot Is Tied, 1.20 Sandown @ 5/2

Bryony Frost, like the rest of us, will be dreaming of a big week at Cheltenham and the in-form pilot can get things started with another Saturday winner in the opener at Sandown on The Knot Is Tied for Neil King.

The partnership have improved on each of their three starts so far over timber, going down just a head last time at Huntingdon on handicap debut. The winner of that race, Dyliev, scored again at the same track next time out and so a 2lb rise in the ratings looks more than fair for the selection.

The betting suggests the main danger is going to be Katpoli, for trainer Dr Richard Newland and Sam Twiston-Davies. He was a winner at Huntingdon at the start of the season and also ran well twice in decent races around Cheltenham. Last month’s laboured effort at Wincanton, though, was a worrying one, as he disappointed favourite backers.

He makes his handicap bow now under top-weight and might just struggle to again with The Knot Is Tied likely to improve.

Oh This Is Us, 3.15 Wolverhampton @ 2/1

Richard Hannon’s name is starting to feature on our race cards once more with spring in the air and his horses are already in good form.

Oh This Is Us is already twice a Listed winner and can add to that tally by landing the Lady Wulfruna Stakes over 7f at Wolverhampton.

Tom Marquand’s mount scored quite readily recently at Lingfield in a handicap off a mark of 110, despite the race not being run to suit. The way in which he closed down and got the job done will give his jockey plenty of confidence coming into this event.

Improving C&D winner Island Of Life for William Haggas is set to be the chief threat, though she’ll have to eke out a good deal to thwart Oh This Is Us if he runs up to his mark.

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