Paul Nicholls: Diego the pick of my trio in competitive Imperial Cup

Betfair Ambassador Paul Nicholls
Paul Nicholls has three runners in Sandown's Imperial Cup on Saturday

On the weekend before Cheltenham, Betfair Ambassador Paul Nicholls has six runners on Sandown's Imperial Cup card, including three in the feature race itself...

"Best Chance: Diego Du Charmil - 14:25. He looks to have a decent each-way chance in a competitive race."

Each-way claims if it stays dry

13:50 - Jeremy Pass - NON-RUNNER

He couldn't handle deep ground at Ascot in January but was much better last time at Doncaster when finishing a close third in a decent novice event which qualified him for this race. He would just have needed that run a bit and wouldn't want any more rain at Sandown. If it stays dry he would have a little each-way chance in a highly competitive final.

All three can run solid races but Charmil goes well fresh and is going well at home

14:25 - Diego Du Charmil, Malaya & Miranda

Talented and versatile Diego Du Charmil did a lovely piece of work at Wincanton last week. He ran tidily in his first two starts over hurdles this season but like a few of mine at the time wasn't at his best in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton over Christmas. Diego also didn't appreciate the cheek pieces we put on that day so I think you can put a line through that run. Given that he is on a mark of 145 over hurdles and 8lbs higher over fences it makes sense to have a crack at the Imperial Cup. He goes well fresh and is in good order.

I have to admit Malaya was a bit disappointing last time at Ascot where I felt the step up in trip would be in her favour. But after watching her that day I am not convinced that is the case. While Malaya can be a bit in and out she won this race two years ago, so we know the track suits her well and it wouldn't surprise me to see her bounce back to form.

Miranda looked very good when winning a Grade 2 Mares' Hurdle at Doncaster at the end of January but keeps going up in the weights, so the 7lbs claim of Angus Cheleda will certainly help. I expect her to run another solid race.

Pleased us lots and any rain will be in her favour

15:00 - Rainyday Woman

She has done nothing but please since she joined us in the summer, winning stylishly at Stratford in November before following up in a Listed mares' bumper at Huntingdon just before Christmas. Rainyday Woman has a 4lbs penalty in a hot looking race and any further rain at Sandown would be in her favour.

Should got very well despite top weight

15:35 - Stratagem

A decent recruit from France, he made a highly promising debut over fences when just touched off by Phoenix Way at Warwick and then put a blip at Plumpton behind him with a fluent success at Doncaster two months ago. It's encouraging that the horse he beat there hacked up by 18 lengths on Wednesday. Although Stratagem is on a stiff enough handicap mark and has top weight in this he's a useful sort and should run very well.

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