Paddy Power Imperial Cup Handicap Hurdle
Grade 3 Handicap Hurdle,
Sandown Park 14:25
£100,000 guaranteed, 4yo plus,
1m 7f 216y, Class 1   
Saturday 12th March 2022

1 Suprise Package 20/1
2 Lively Citizen 28/1
3 Hacker Des Places 16/1
4 Onemorefortheroad 12/1
22 ran Distances: 9l, 1¾l, 1½l
Time: 4m 12.50s (slow by 20.50s)

Suprise Package was halved in price to 8-1 for the County Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival by QuinnBet, after a nine-length success.

Sent off at 20-1, James Bowen’s mount travelled well throughout. He was on the bridle approaching the last, and turned the competitive handicap into something of a procession.

Though winless since last April, Suprise Package could make it a quick double should he line up in the County Hurdle, with the forecast set fair next week.

County Kildare trainer Peter Fahey admitted: “I think he would like quicker ground, too. He won a good race at Punchestown last year – the Red Mills Final – and he put in a huge performance that day, and he has just kept on improving.

“It is great for Paul Leech (owner), who has only two horses in the yard with me. Freedom To Dream, who was fourth at Leopardstown in a Grade One, is his other one. He goes for the Martin Pipe, although he needs five or six to come out, but to have two horses running at Cheltenham he is a lucky owner.

“You’d definitely have a bit of confidence from that. I think this lad has physically improved from his last run. I know he was five or six pounds higher today and if he goes to the County Hurdle he will have another five pounds on his back, but he is actually a horse who takes his races very well.

“He will travel to Cheltenham tomorrow morning and we will freshen him up. I’m going home tonight and will come back over on Monday and see where we are from there.

“When the entries came out for Cheltenham, we were thinking about the County hurdle, but we might not get in, so we had a horse tuned up to run there and Paul picked this race and said why sit on the fence, because if you think you are going to run a big race in the County Hurdle, why not come here first.

“I suppose the pity the (£50,000) bonus (for winning the Imperial Cup and a race at Cheltenham) isn’t there this year, but if the horse is right, there’s a chance he will run again.”

He added: “The one think I said to James was don’t rush him across the chase track, because there was some tacky ground and I didn’t want him to force him over that furlong and a half.

“In fairness, he did travel well and when he got on the nicer ground, he picked up and stayed on going away to the line. It was a huge performance.

“He is used to running in those big handicaps and that experience has helped him.”

Victory was particularly sweet for Bowen, who has rarely had much previous luck at Sandown and was celebrating his 21st birthday.

He said: “He travelled well, I was a bit further back than I wanted to be but I just got a smooth run round, which helped me a lot.

“He was ready for today and had that experience in big Irish handicaps, which a lot of them didn’t. It makes a hell of a lot of difference, especially around here.

“It is probably a portent of things to come next week – but I’ll be at Hexham and Sedgefield if you want to watch me there!

“I was a bit surprised how well he travelled, but I was always confident he was going to jump, even if he hadn’t seen the hurdle. He is a hardened handicapper.

“It is my birthday, so it is a good winner. It was a nice way to celebrate. I was still not a fan of Sandown before today, but I am starting to like it a bit more now!”


Paddy Power Imperial Cup Handicap Hurdle
£100,000 guaranteed, 4yo plus, 1m 7f 216y, Class 1
22 ran
Going: Soft

1     Suprise Package 6 11-1 Peter Fahey James Bowen 20/1
9 Lively Citizen 7 10-1 D J Jeffreys Archie Bellamy 28/1
Hacker Des Places 5 10-13 Paul Nicholls Angus Cheleda 16/1
Onemorefortheroad 7 11-3 Neil King Jack Quinlan 12/1
nk Lucky One 7 10-5 Dan Skelton Harry Skelton 8/1
nk Howdyalikemenow 6 10-6 Evan Williams Adam Wedge 50/1
Grisbi De Berce 6 10-1 Alan King Jonathan Burke 22/1
Monviel 5 10-1 Philip Hobbs Tom O'Brien 22/1
Samarrive 5 11-5 Paul Nicholls Harry Cobden 16/1
Hydroplane 6 10-2 Ian Williams Charlie Todd 33/1
Mr Grey Sky 8 10-6 Kim Bailey David Bass 16/1
Kihavah 5 10-4 Adrian Paul Keatley Kevin Brogan 22/1
1 Miranda 7 11-12 Paul Nicholls Mr Ben Bromley 40/1
hd Mick Maestro 9 11-1 Nick Kent Charlie Hammond 50/1
Calico 6 10-12 Dan Skelton Mr Tristan Durrell 28/1
Current Mood 7 10-7 Evan Williams Isabel Williams 17/2
8 Zambezi Fix 7 10-8 Bernard Llewellyn Sean Bowen 28/1
46 Lebowski 7 10-4 Michael Scudamore Richard Patrick 20/1
PU Balco Coastal 6 11-0 Nicky Henderson Nico de Boinville 9/2F
PU Up For Parol 6 10-12 Jamie Snowden Gavin Sheehan 11/1
PU Transatlantic 5 10-10 Gary Moore Joshua Moore 33/1
PU Hystery Bere 5 10-10 Tom Symonds Aidan Coleman 15/2

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