Neil King reports Onemorefortheroad to be in prime shape to kickstart a spring campaign in the Paddy Power Imperial Cup at Sandown on Saturday.
The seven-year-old has fully recovered from the minor setback that forced him to miss the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury last month and has been pleasing the Wiltshire handler in his work.
He has been absent since finishing second to Tritonic in the Betfair Exchange Trophy at Ascot in December, having won his first three starts in the autumn culminating in the Listed Intermediate Handicap Hurdle at Newbury.
“All is well again now. He did a lovely bit of work last Saturday morning. He’s had a nice winter break, and he’s fresh and ready to go through the spring,” said King.
“It’s attracted a large field this year. It is always a competitive handicap. We obviously hope he goes there with a squeak.”
Tom Symonds is hoping Hystery Bere can build on his last run when he was third to Cormier in a competitive handicap hurdle at Cheltenham in January.
“It’s quite a big ask of him, but we’re looking forward to it and the form of his Cheltenham race has worked out really well with Cormier going on to win and the second, Severance, has run well too,” said Symonds.
“He’s only run five times for us so we’re still learning about him – we’re going there hopeful rather than confident. Fingers crossed for a good run.
“The ground should be OK for him, whether they get rain or not. He’s handled all sorts so let’s hope he can put his best foot forward.”
Evan Williams would not mind rain for his two runners, Current Mood and Howdyalikemenow.
“Current Mood has done very little wrong this year. It’s her first time in a handicap, we thought we’d try her in this as opposed to the EBF Final, roll the dice and have a go,” said Williams.
“She won over two miles last time but she’s effective over a variety of trips. It’s a stiff track and I think there’s a drop of rain to come, which will make it more of a staying test.
“Howdyalikemenow ran very well last time on ground that was a bit too good for him in the Betfair Hurdle. We’re keen to have another go in a big handicap with him. Any drop of rain will be of benefit to him.”
Paul Nicholls is three-handed with Miranda, Hacker Des Places and Samarrive.
“Miranda was fifth in the race a year ago and after another fruitful season returns on the same handicap mark of 146, which is high enough considering she was beaten 15 lengths in a Grade Two mares’ hurdle at Doncaster last time,” the Ditcheat trainer told Betfair.
“Miranda will run her usual honest race with the talented young amateur Ben Bromley claiming a handy 7lb.”
Nicholls is also claiming 5lb off Hacker Des Places with Angus Cheleda.
“He bounced back to form last time at Chepstow with a pleasing victory from the front. I did consider turning him out again a week later at Musselburgh but that race came a bit too soon for him and the Imperial Cup is a tempting alternative,” he said.
“Hacker Des Places will again be ridden by our good claimer Angus Cheleda who takes off a valuable 5lb.”
Nicholls feels Samarrive has a big chance if he can repeat the performance that saw him win over the course and distance earlier in the season.
“He won a Listed handicap at this track in style in December, staying on strongly to go clear after the final hurdle,” he said.
“He then ran flat a fortnight later in the Betfair Exchange Trophy at Ascot just before Christmas. I blame myself for running him too soon after Sandown and ever since I’ve had the Imperial Cup in mind for him.
“He is nice and fresh again now and looks to have solid claims in a competitive handicap.”
Suprise Package can book his place at Cheltenham next week with a prominent showing.
“If he happens to run a big race, he might stay over and head to Cheltenham for the County Hurdle. He’d have to get a few pounds to get into it but that is the plan if he runs a big race,” said County Kildare handler Peter Fahey.
“Sandown is a track you either really like or you don’t. He has a good, high cruising speed and he jumps away well. Hopefully, everything goes his way.”