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Mr Mole ready to dig for victory.

Byline: Tanya Stevenson Channel 4's Betfair lady

SANDOWN are in action this afternoon with the highly competitive Paddy Power Imperial Cup.

This Grade 3 event has been kind to punters in recent years with five successful favourites in the last decade.

Age has also been a crucial factor in the race with no horse older than six prevailing in the past 10 years.

Tony McCoy has landed the Imperial Cup five times and he has a massive chance again this year on MR MOLE (3.15).

Paul Nicholls' gelding beat Melodic Rendezvous on his debut at Exeter before flopping at Wincanton in November.

However, Mr Mole returned to winning ways when beating the consistent Home Run in terrific style at Taunton in February.

The gelding is clearly held in very high regard at Ditcheat and is entered in the Vincent O'Brien County Hurdle on Friday.

Top-weight Tanerko Emery was a fine second to Medinas in the Welsh Champion Hurdle but now looks to be in the grip of the handicapper.

Charles Byrnes' Arnaud has only landed one of his 10 career starts but still merits respect.

The five-year-old was just behind the re-opposing Kazlian in last year's Fred Winter and Davy Russell flies over from Ireland to take the ride.

The second favourite is Jonjo O'Neill's former Northumberland Plate winner Tominator.

The gelding was also ahead of good hurdlers Aaim To Prosper and Countrywide Flame when third in the 2012 Cesarewitch.

Tominator showed he had plenty of ability over timber when winning at Sandown in February and his stamina will stand him in good stead today.

John Ferguson's Pine Creek is well-fancied but may just lack the necessary experience while stablemate Cayman Islands has to improve to figure.

Paintball is back to defend his crown but looks vulnerable to some unexposed rivals.

Shammick Boy and Whitby Jack are closely matched on their recent Chepstow running but both could still be feeling the effects of that hard race.

The experienced Changing The Guard hasn't run since November but will relish the likely firmer surface.

He is trained by the shrewd Dr Richard Newland and should go well at 33-1 despite being up against it on all known trends.

Mr Mole is extremely hard to oppose but I also intend to have a significant each-way saver on Changing The Guard.

CALCULATED RISK (1.30) has been rather disappointing recently but should bounce back to form in the juvenile hurdle.

EDMUND KEAN (2.05) looks highly progressive and has a useful six-length advantage over Seedsman after last month's clash at Fakenham.

Oliver Sherwood's Many Clouds is useful but looks up against it at the weights.

Le Reve consolidated his fifth behind Melodic Rendezvous in the Tolworth with a cosy win at Market Rasen last time out.

GUEST OF HONOUR (2.55) could land the Lincoln Trial at Wolverhampton for trainer Marco Botti.

The long wait for this season's Cheltenham Festival finally ends on Tuesday and BAILY GREEN (2.05) looks fine each-way value in the Arkle Trophy.

Later, OUR MICK (2.40) and Monkerty Tunkerty both have excellent chances in the fiercely competitive JLT Speciality Chase.

MERRY KING (1.30) should enhance Jonjo O'Neill's terrific record in Wednesday's National Hunt Chase.

HOUBLON DES OBEAUX (2.40) was second to Rocky Creek in the Reynoldstown and can go well for Venetia Williams in the RSA Chase.

FIVEFORTHREE (4.00) has been the sneaky gamble in the Coral Cup as Wonderful Charm looks set to run on Thursday in the World Hurdle.

THIRD INTENTION (1.30) is my fancy for the Jewson Chase on Thursday and he should also be backed in a combination forecast with both Captain Conan and Dynaste.

On Friday, Rebecca Curtis can land the Albert Bartlett Hurdle with AT FISHERS CROSS (2.40).

Later, BOBS WORTH (3.20) looks set to confirm the promise of his superb Hennessy victory by taking the Cheltenham Gold Cup for Nicky Henderson.

Tony McCoy seems value at 15-2 to be leading jockey as retainer JP McManus has so many runners towards the head of the betting.

CAPTION(S):

McC J OY Fine record in Imperial Cup
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Mar 9, 2013
Words:691
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