Two bets from Kevin Blake on Betfair Imperial Cup day
Big price Mexico set to enjoy stamina test
Irish raider looks well handicapped in feature
Strong stayer to emjoy stamina test
Weather permitting, Sandown is set to take centre stage on ITV Racing this Saturday with the Betfair Imperial Cup being the main event.
Testing ground is likely to be the order of the day and there will be no place for questionable stayers. The two races that interest me the most on the card have attracted large fields and both represent particularly tough puzzles, but the results for finding the solutions could well be great.
The first race of interest is the EBF Betfair 'National Hunt' Novices' Handicap Hurdle Final (13:50). This promises to be a notably tough test of stamina in the prevailing conditions and with dour stayers being in short supply, the one that stands out to me at a big price is the Stuart Edmunds-trained Mexico.
The seven-year-old is one of the oldest runners in the field and has looked a strong stayer in his starts over hurdles to date. This was very much the case when he finished 12 lengths third in a handicap hurdle at Carlisle last time, with the extended two miles and three furlongs looking to be on the sharp side for him on the good-to-soft ground.
This slightly longer trip and much more testing ground will very much be a help to him as it should put a much greater emphasis on stamina. He appeals as being well handicapped when his stamina gets drawn out and this might well be the right occasion to take a chance on him as his price is very much right.
Man can make short Work of Imperial Cup rivals
The featured Betfair Imperial Cup Handicap Hurdle (14:25) has attracted a seriously competitive field, but the testing ground should ensure that only the toughest and stoutest stayers will still be in there boxing up the run-in.
The one I think will hang in there the best is an Irish raider, the Paul Fahey-trained Man O Work.
The five-year-old was held in high regard as a juvenile hurdler last season, winning twice and being pitched into Grade 1 company on his final start of the campaign. While he didn't run to expectations there, he very much got back on track when shaping very nicely on his handicap hurdle debut when second to Prairie Dancer in the Lartigue Hurdle at Listowel in September.
It wasn't easy to get involved from off the pace in that contest and he made a fair effort at doing so, stamping him as a potentially well handicapped horse in more favourable circumstances.
While he fell at the third hurdle in his latest outing at the Dublin Racing Festival, the hope is that will prove to be just a blip and that he will very much get back on track here.
He appeals as one that will handle the prevailing conditions and with the British handicapping team having let him off reasonably lightly compared to his Irish mark, the stage could well be set for a big effort from him.
Looking to build your Cheltenham Festival pot? Then read Tony Calvin's Sandown tips for this Saturday right here.
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