Betfair Imperial Cup Handicap Hurdle
Grade 3 Handicap Hurdle,
Sandown Park 14:25
£100,000 guaranteed, 4yo plus,
1m 7f 216y, Class 1   
Saturday 9th March 2024

1 Go Dante 5/1J
2 Faivoir 11/1
3 Jipcot 15/2
3 Making Headway 8/1
16 ran Distances: nse, 4¾l, 3¾l
Time: 4m 5.10s (slow by 13.10s)

Despite a less-than-fluent performance mid-pack, Go Dante capitalized on the testing finish. Under the skilled riding of Sean Bowen, he surged forward, overtaking Faivoir in a nail-biting photo finish by a mere nose.

Faivoir, a previous winner of the County Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, had led the valuable handicap after the final hurdle. However, Go Dante’s late surge secured victory for the second time in three starts.

The Dan Skelton-trained horse had appeared unbeatable after a clear lead following the last jump, but Go Dante’s timely acceleration sealed the win.

 Jipcot secured third place under a penalty for Ben Pauling, while Making Headway finished fourth. 

Speaking to ITV Racing, Bowen said: "You're never confident, especially in a race like that. We went a really strong gallop and we were in a nice position the whole way. He was in a nice bit of rhythm, he jumped and travelled, and I turned in fairly confident that I was going to pick up. 

"He was a little bit slow at the last again but he showed a good attitude. What has actually helped today is probably running closer between races. He's progressed with each run this season and I think not having too long between Newbury and today has helped."

Bowen closed the gap on Harry Cobden in the title race to ten, and the rider is not giving up hope of landing the championship at the end of the season.

He added: "It's great fun and it's good that we get on, it would be fairly hard if we didn't get on. I may not win, but I might do. I'd be fairly disappointed if I didn't but we'll give it a good go."

After his Sandown success, Go Dante was cut to 16-1 (from 33) with Quinnbet for the County Hurdle on March 15.


Imperial Cup Handicap Hurdle
£100,000 guaranteed, 4yo plus, 1m 7f 216y, Class 1
16 ran
Going: Soft, Heavy in places

1    Go Dante 8 11-4 Olly Murphy Sean Bowen 5/1
nse Faivoir 9 11-11 Dan Skelton Harry Skelton 11/1
Jipcot 5 10-13 7ex Ben Pauling Kielan Woods 15/2
Making Headway 6 11-4 Oliver Greenall & Josh Guerriero Henry Brooke 8/1
Knickerbockerglory 8 11-10 Dan Skelton Tristan Durrell 15/2
Goonhilly 6 10-4 Dan Skelton Charlie Todd 33/1
nk Lively Citizen 9 10-2 D J Jeffreys Harry Atkins 33/1
6 Bashers Reflection 7 11-1 Ben Case Jack Quinlan 25/1
Shared 5 11-0 Harry Derham Paul O'Brien 28/1
Metier 8 12-0 Harry Fry Jonathan Burke 28/1
Bad 5 11-1 Ben Pauling Ben Jones 5/1J
Sans Bruit 6 11-7 Paul Nicholls Harry Cobden 8/1
13 6 Spirit D'Aunou 5 12-0 Gary Moore Mr Freddie Mitchell 14/1
22 Minx Tiara 9 11-9 David O'Brien Sean Flanagan 50/1
6 Georgi Girl 5 11-0 Philip Hobbs & Johnson White Elizabeth Gale 11/1
PU Junkanoo 7 10-12 Gary Moore Niall Houlihan 20/1