Talking Horses: Lively Citizen can lift the Imperial Cup at generous odds | horse racing tips

It is always a good idea to warm up before serious exercise and the 22-runner Imperial Cup at Sandown Park on Saturday is an ideal way to stretch the betting tendons and sinews before the Cheltenham Festival next week.

Balco Coastal, runner-up in a Grade Two novice event last time out, has emerged as favorite and has obvious scope for improvement after just three starts over timber. Nicky Henderson’s form is a slight concern though, as his yard has not sent out a winner since mid-February, and an opening mark of 134 looks no more than fair.

Dan Skelton and Paul Nicholls, successful in the last two renewals, also have fancied runners but the market’s focus on big-name yards allows others with decent chances to creep in at generous odds.

Lively Citizen (2.25), the star of David Jeffreys’ small yard near Evesham, is a prime example. He is two-from-three since 7lb claimer Archie Bellamy took over in the saddle, and the race in between was a non-event as his saddle slipped early on. He is just 4lb higher after another battling success at Leicester in February and with many firms offering six places, he looks an excellent each-way bet at around 20-1.

Wolverhampton 1.31 It all went wrong from an early stage for Asadjumeirah at Lingfield last time but his previous winning form at Newcastle looks strong and at around 7-1, he deserves another chance.

Sandown Park 1.50 Knappers Hill was doing all his best work in the closing stages of the Betfair Hurdle last time and this step up in trip looks sure to follow.

Wolverhampton 2.05 There is little to choose between La Tihaty and Hafeet Alain on their best form so at the likely odds, Ed Walker’s six-year-old has to be the pick at around 5-1.

Wolverhampton 2.40 Several of these have run well in Group races on turf, including Happy Power, less than four lengths behind the winner in the Group One sprint on Champions day last October. French-trained Amilcarthough, has plenty of form on all-weather surfaces too, including a Listed win at Deauville in December, and even with a 3lb penalty, looks overpriced at around 12-1 to follow up here.

Ayr
1.00 Lissen To The Lady
1.35 Better Getalong
2.10 Destiny Is All
2.45 Leitrim Chief
3.20 Shoeshine Boy
3.55 Juge Et Parti
4.30 Lusitanien

Sandown Park
1.15 Hasty Parisian
1.50 Knappers Hill
2.25 Lively Citizen (nap)
3.00 Mullenbeg
3.35 Scene Not Herd
4.10 Powerstown Park
4.45 Nocte Volatus

Wolverhampton
1.31 Asadjumeirah (nb)
2.05 Hafeet Alain
2.40 Amilcar
3.16 Killearn
3.51 Almaan
4.26 Meng Tian
5.04 Reckon I’m Hot

Lingfield Park 
1.46 Helian
2.21 King Of Time
2.56 Cool Spirit
3.31 Tadreeb
4.06 Olivia Mary
4.41 Pluperfect

Hereford
1.56 Hermes Boy
2.31 Mr Harp
3.06 Ahead Of The Field
3.41 Prince Escalus
4.16 Lime Drop
4.51 City Chief
5.21 Pottlerath
5.51 Karakoram

Kempton Park
5.00 The Defiant
5.30 Airshow
6.00 Figures
6.30 Guitar
7.00 Gobi Sunset
7.30 Nayef Road
8.00 Masqool
8.30 Platinum Prince

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QuickGuide

Saturday’s racing tips, by Greg Wood

Show

Ayr
1.00 Lissen To The Lady
1.35 Better Getalong
2.10 Destiny Is All
2.45 Leitrim Chief
3.20 Shoeshine Boy
3.55 Judge And Party
4.30 Lusitano

Sandown Park
1.15 Hasty Parisians
1.50 Knappers Hill
2.25 Lively Citizen (nap)
3.00 Mullenberg
3.35 Scene Not Herd
4.10 Powerstown Park
4.45 Nocte Volatus

Wolverhampton
1.31 Asadjumeirah (nb)
2.05 Hafeet Alain
2.40 Amilcar
3.16 Killearn
3.51 Almaan
4.26 Meng Tian
5.04 Reckon I’m Hot

Lingfield Park
1.46 Helian
2.21 King Of Time
2.56 Cool Spirit
3.31 Tadreeb
4.06 Olivia Mary
4.41 Pluperfect

Hereford
1.56 Hermes Boy
2.31 Mr Harp
3.06 Ahead Of The Field
3.41 Prince Escalus
4.16 File Drop
4.51 City Chief
5.21 Pottlerath
5.51 Karakoram

Kempton Park
5.00 The Defiant
5.30 Airshow
6.00 Tricks
6.30 Guitar
7.00 Gobi Sunset
7.30 Nayef Road
8.00 Maskool
8.30 Platinum Prince

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Sandown Park 3.00 Mullenberg has won with plenty in hand on both her starts to date and should justify the decision to run here in preference to the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham next week.

Sandown Park 3.35 Scene Not Herd has made an excellent start to his chasing career and remains unbeaten over fences after three starts in handicaps. He has been given a break since ending Minella Trump’s six-race winning streak in December and makes plenty of appeal at around 3-1.

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