Paddy Power has stepped back in to sponsor Sandown’s Imperial Cup next weekend, and reinstated the £100,000 bonus if the winner goes on to be successful at the Cheltenham Festival.
The bonus has been won three times, all by the Pipe family. Martin won it twice – in 1993 with Olympian who went on to win the Coral Cup, and Blowing Wind who followed up in the County Hurdle in 1998.
Son David then took over the licence, and the mare Gaspara landed the booty in 2007 – winning the Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle, now known as the Boodles.
This year’s Imperial Cup favourite is Mack The Man, and his trainer Evan Williams had a link to Olympian so would like to land the bonus himself.
“I want to win the bonus – I’ll be brutally honest with you,” he said.
“I had quite a lot to do with Olympian, and I’ve always found the bonus an interesting angle with the horse. It’s great for the public’s imagination going into Cheltenham – and while I’m not saying I’m going to do it, I’d love to have a crack.
“Mack The Man would have to win to get into the County Hurdle, and the bonus makes it more attractive.
“Jimmy Neville sent Olympian down to the Pipes, having opened a yard in Newport which he bought as a farm and turned into a racing yard when Rod Simpson was there. I did pre-training and had a lot to do with Jimmy.
“Thinking back, Olympian is one of those stories. The favourite for the Imperial Cup is willing to have a crack at the bonus, and I’ve always wanted to have a horse to try and do that.”
Mack The Man was right in the mix when brought down in the Betfair Hurdle last time out.
“He’ll run in the Paddy Power Imperial Cup and he’s come out of Newbury grand,” added Williams.
“He’s had a couple of schools since the last day when obviously he got a bit of a bump when brought down. In fact he schooled on Wednesday and everything was good and he’s in A1 condition.”