Betting: Back Hobbs pair to boost Cheltenham bank balance

 
Bill Esdaile
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Cheltenham Races
Copper Kay was a very impressive winner at Cheltenham in November (Source: Getty)

Sandown stages its traditional Cheltenham curtain-raiser on Saturday, the Close Brothers Imperial Cup (3.10pm).

This is always a hugely popular betting race, as punters attempt to boost the coffers ahead of Tuesday’s trip to the Cotswolds.

Unfortunately, it hasn’t been too kind to them recently with two 20/1 shots and a 33/1 winner in the last four years.

The favourite is Harry Whittington’s Affaire D’Honneur and it’s easy to see why after his eye-catching run in the Betfair Hurdle last month.

He completely missed the break that day and was still last entering the home straight, so to finish fourth was an excellent effort.

My problem is the price as he’s as short as 10/3 in places - and that’s skinny enough for a race like this.

With plenty of rain around and conditions set to be really testing, I prefer the chances of second favourite FOR GOOD MEASURE at 6/1 with Betway.

The hat-trick seeking five-year-old will have no problems with the conditions and Philip Hobbs’ runner will stay much further than this two mile trip.

Dan Skelton is in great form at the moment and my other selection is his KNOCKGRAFFON, who has finished in the first two on all four starts for his Warwickshire trainer.

He’s another guaranteed to stay and still looks one step ahead of the handicapper. The 16/1 still available seems a fair price.

The best bet of the afternoon, though, is another Hobbs-trained runner in the shape of COPPER KAY in the EBF Mares’ Bumper (3.45pm).

Betway ambassador Richard Johnson hasn’t been able to hide his enthusiasm for this mare and she should take all the beating before heading to Aintree next month.

Pointers

For Good Measure 3.10pm Sandown

Knockgraffon e/w 3.10pm Sandown

Copper Kay 3.45pm Sandown