Williams hoping for Imperial consolation for Mack

Betfair Hurdle faller due to line up in Sandown feature.

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Ante-post favourite Mack The Man is one of 27 horses confirmed for the Paddy Power Imperial Cup at Sandown on Saturday.

The Evan Williams-trained six-year-old made a successful start to his campaign at Warwick in November, before following up impressively over the Imperial Cup course and distance the following month.

He was brought down at the final flight when still in contention for the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury on his latest appearance and his connections are hoping compensation awaits this weekend.

“He seems fine since Newbury. He’s had a few schools and everything was grand,” Williams told Sky Sports Racing.

“What happened at Newbury is just racing, isn’t it? That’s what happens in those competitive handicaps.

“He’s worked well since. He doesn’t show you a whole lot and is a pretty relaxed character. We’ve just tipped away with him quietly and freshened him up and everything is good.

“Like all those handicappers, it all depends on if they’re in form or if they’ve got a few pounds up their sleeve, or if they’ve got conditions on the day that they want.

“We’re happy with him and he’s fresh and seems very well in himself.”

Having stepped back in to sponsor the Imperial Cup, Paddy Power have also reinstated a £100,000 bonus for the winner, should they follow up at next week’s Cheltenham Festival.

Williams added: “It’s lovely that they’ve put the bonus up – it adds to the interest. Everybody would like to try to win it and we’re no different, but we’ll take one step at a time.

“It will be awfully difficult to win on Saturday, never mind win again next week. It’s good publicity and nice to talk about – and if we were lucky enough for the cards to fall right, it would be very tempting to have a go.”

With Chris Gordon not confirming his Dovecote Novices’ Hurdle winner Highway One O Two, the Paul Nicholls-trained Christopher Wood now heads the weights. The Ditcheat handler could also call upon Malaya, Miranda and Tamaroc Du Mathan.

Other leading contenders include Ben Pauling’s Shakem Up’Arry – owned by Harry Redknapp – the Philip Hobbs-trained Dostal Phil and Trincomalee from Lucy Wadham’s yard.

Irish hopes are carried by Joseph O’Brien’s pair of Front View and Entoucas.

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