Fixe Le Kap: grey has been off for nearly a year
PICTURE:Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
By James Burn 5:01PM 6 MAR 2017
Any horse who wins Saturday’s Matchbook Imperial Cup and follows up at the Cheltenham Festival will earn their connections a £50,000 bonus, to be split £30,000 to the owner(s), £10,000 to the trainer, £5,000 to the yard and £5,000 to the jockey (halved if different).
It was a double achieved by Olympian (1993), Blowing Wind (1998) and Gaspara (2007), who were all trained by the Pipes.
Plenty of the horses entered in Sandown’s £70,000 Imperial Cup are engaged at Cheltenham, and James Burn takes a look at three of the more plausible bonus baggers…
Earmarked for chasing in the autumn, the strapping grey has been absent since finishing eighth in last year’s Fred Winter. Connections originally had Peace And Co pencilled in for the Imperial Cup, which trainer Nicky Henderson won as a jockey on Acquaint in 1977. Fixe Le Kap looked smart on his first two starts in Britain and while he is already close to getting in the Martin Pipe at Cheltenham, victory at Sandown would give him a chance of making the Coral Cup.
There are not many trainers shrewder than Richard Newland when it comes to placing horses and the trainer landed the Imperial Cup two years ago with Ebony Express, while Burntoakboy gave him a first festival strike in the 2007 Coral Cup. In Vosne Romanee he has a horse who won an all-weather handicap at Wolverhampton last time, but would be on plenty of shortlists for the Randox Health County Hurdle if he was to score at Sandown.
Graeme McPherson, also a QC, is enjoying his best season, but is missing a signature victory on his CV. Perhaps that can change with the consistent Kayf Blanco, who was fifth in the Betfair Hurdle last time. He was also a solid seventh in the County Hurdle 12 months ago and would need to win the Imperial Cup and pick up a 5lb penalty to make that race, or the Coral Cup or Martin Pipe. Interestingly, he is also entered in a handicap hurdle at Sandown on Friday. Three wins in a week? Now that is something the Pipes would be proud of.