Racing: The final big betting race before Cheltenham takes place at Sandown Park tomorrow afternoon and I fancy Paintball to outrun his odds of 16/1 and so land the valuable Imperial Cup Handicap Hurdle (3.15) for the second year running.
Charlie Longsdon’s charge fired up the Esher hill last year to crush Nampour by no less than four and a half lengths off a handicap mark of 128 and gets the chance to defend his title off only a one pound higher mark.
Since that success his displays have been far from inspiring. In fact he has been beaten over 400 lengths in five outings!
However there is nothing like the theory of horses for courses and, if he is ridden a bit more conservatively, I suspect that could be the key to a much-improved performance.
There are a whole host of rivals to be wary of, not least the current favourite Mr Mole after he routed a fair field at Taunton on the bridle last time out.
The form of that contest has since been cemented in some style and he looks set to be involved along with First Avenue and Shammick Boy.
The former looked set to land a course-and-distance handicap in style at the end of last year, but buckled on landing over the last flight, while Shammick Boy saw off another of tomorrow’s runners Whitby Jack in fine style at Chepstow and should confirm that form on these altered terms.
It’s a big day on the all-weather at Wolverhampton, with their Channel 4 televised meeting including a Listed race and the Lincoln Trial won last year by Nazreef.
The six–year-old is due to defend his title off a six pound lower mark and will once again be a hard horse to pass as Kingscroft found last year, but the value in the race this time around belongs to the veteran Mia’s Boy.
The now nine-year-old has a good record at the Midlands track, having raced four times at Dunstall Park, winning twice and finishing second on the two other occasions.
A running on second to Solar Deity at Lingfield last time out shows he retains the most of his talent and he can score an overdue victory, his first since December 2011.
He can pounce late in the 2.55 and deny last year’s winner along with the Marco Botti trained Guest of Honour.
Later on, have a second look at Master of Disguise in the handicap sprint at 3.30, while Dubai Dynamo can land the six-furlong handicap at 4.05.