The Insider: All about Eve
The Insider has a 16/1 ante-post selection for Saturday's William Hill Imperial Cup at Sandown.
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The layers are taking no chances with Regal Encore ahead of Saturday's William Hill Imperial Cup which is understandable and it is a race where some hugely popular public gambles have been landed.
Anthony Honeyball's novice will never go under the radar given his connections and he is certainly potentially well handicapped on a mark of 130 given that the horse that beat him on his most recent outing at Hexham in December, Seeyouatdmidnight, is now rated 155.
Regal Encore only finished two lengths adrift of the winner under an exaggerated hold-up ride and last season's Champion Bumper second should prove capable of running to a higher mark than his initial perch.
He's 11/4 though and likely to face ground that's more testing than he's encountered and his stable hasn't saddled a winner in 2014, albeit from only a handful of runners, and have seen two of their last three runners pull up with the other beaten 38 lengths.
Obviously, he could easily win and win easily but the statistics above are hardly encouraging even if the race doesn't have quite as much depth as you would usually associate with an Imperial Cup.
One thing you do associate with the Imperial Cup is the Pond House Stables of David Pipe and the Nicholashayne handler has two entries in Baltimore Rock and Swing Bowler.
The former, who beat the useful If In Doubt in a bumper on his Rules debut, is 'improving' according to Tom Scudamore who described his performance at Ludlow as 'much more professional'.
He is all about potential whereas Swing Bowler has run big races in the last two renewals of the Betfair Hurdle and has the big handicap form in the book. She's had just the one start this term and that was just the eighth of her career so she could reasonably be expected to improve from it.
Again while both horses could well win, neither has been missed by the bookies given their trainer and the same is also true of the Paul Nicholls-trained pair, Lac Fontana and Vibrato Valtat.
There are two runners who do appeal as being overpriced, however, and they are The Skyfarmer and New Year's Eve.
The former was an impressive winner at Cheltenham in December but hasn't been seen since getting stuck in the mud at Ascot the following month. There may have been other reasons for the below-par display but, with his trainer having sounded a clear warning about his ability to handle testing ground before that race, it seems reasonable to assume the run was down to the conditions which makes him difficult to back at the weekend.
In contrast, testing ground is of no concern to New Year's Eve who, like the favourite, finished second in the Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival when finding only Champagne Fever too strong.
That run remains the high point of a career that was in danger of becoming disappointing but he has now won three of his last four starts and, in the words of his trainer John Ferguson, has turned the corner.
The gelded son of Motivator is enjoying himself again according to his handler and the improvement has coincided with the fitting of a hood which he has worn for his last two starts.
New Year's Eve was made to work quite hard for victory at Market Rasen having travelled strongly into the race and there's no doubt that this is a more competitive affair.
However, there's no doubting his class with those behind him at the Festival including Champion Hurdle hopefuls The New One and Jezki along with a host of other smart performers and odds of 16/1 appear to vastly underestimate his chances if he really has turned the corner. That's a chance well worth taking.
New Year's Eve: 1pt each-way