PETER Fahey could win the Betfair Imperial Cup again today with Zoffany Bay. He won it last year.
Suprise Package was allowed go off at 20/1, but he was really impressive in becoming the first Irish-trained horse to win the race since Ado McGuinness won it with Victram in 2006.
Peter Fahey is no stranger to multiple wins in valuable races mind you. In 2016, he won the MW Hickey Memorial Chase at Wexford with Bay Of Freedom, then went back two years later and won it again with Peregrine Run.
In 2021 he won the Connollys Red Mills EBF Final with 14/1 shot Suprise Package, and he won the race again the following year with an even bigger surprise package in Ambitious Fellow, a 40/1 shot.
Zoffany Bay is a really interesting horse too.
He put up a really encouraging performance on his first run for Peter Fahey when he finished second behind Irish Hill in a handicap hurdle at Ascot last month.
That was his first run too since he won a listed hurdle at Auteuil in March 2021, when he had subsequent Prix La Barka winner Super Alex four lengths behind him in second. And he was weak in the market beforehand, so there is every chance that he will come on for that run.
The main negative is that the market is on to him. He is no better than 15/2 now, he is almost favourite. The other small worry is about the bounce factor, it is only three weeks since that run at Ascot, and that was his first run in 700 days.
Monviel may represent better value at a slightly bigger price. Philip Hobbs’ horse did well to finish as close as he did in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury last time, given that he was squeezed out of it early and was way further back in the field early on than ideal in a race in which the pace held up well.
Aucunrisque made all the running and runner-up Filey Bay was never too far away from the pace.
By contrast, Monviel was well back in the field from flagfall, and he was still third last at the top of the home straight. He did well to stay on to finish fifth, beaten just a length and a half for third.
He should be happier on the softer ground today, and he won a novices’ hurdle over today’s course and distance in February last year.
He was only eighth in last year’s Imperial Cup, and he is 8lb higher today than he was then, but he is a better horse this year, as evidenced by the performance that he put up at Newbury last time, and in winning a good handicap hurdle at Ascot in November.
He is still only six and he has raced just six times over hurdles. He has the right mix now of experience and potential for a competitive handicap like this.
Novices’ Handicap Final
Henri The Second could also go well in the EBF Betfair Novices’ Handicap Hurdle Final earlier in the day.
Paul Nicholls’ horse has to shoulder top-weight, but he is another lightly-raced individual who has the potential to go beyond the handicap rating of 132 off which he races today.
A good winner of the Grade 2 Winter Novices’ Hurdle over today’s course and distance at the Tingle Creek meeting in December, he was probably caught out for pace in the Grade 2 Classic Hurdle at Cheltenham’s January meeting, and it was a similar story last time on good ground at Warwick, when he finished second behind Pikar.
A half-brother to staying chaser Enrilo, this race is usually a stiff test of stamina at the trip and, in that regard, the soft to heavy conditions should be a positive for Henri The Second.
Nowhere was he stronger than at the line in the Winter Novices’ Hurdle in December, and the softer ground today should bring his stamina into play.
He is one for one at the track, over the course and distance, and you can be sure that the excellent Harry Cobden will chart a path that sees him race on the best of the ground.
Henri The Second, 1.50 Sandown, 17/2 (generally), 1 point each-way
Monviel, 2.25 Sandown, 8/1 (generally), 1 point each-way