Zoffany Bay flies flag for Fahey in Imperial Cup
The nine-year-old was off the track for almost two years before making an eye-catching debut for the Monasterevin-based handler at Ascot last month and Fahey believes his charge will have no issue dropping back to the minimum distance on Saturday afternoon – especially if the forecast rain brings his stamina into play.
The Irishman saddled Surprise Package to score at 20/1 in the race 12 months ago, but the bookmakers are taking no chances this time around with Zoffany Bay.
“We were thrilled with the way he ran at Ascot, he ran a cracker in what was his first run after nearly two years off,” said Fahey.
“Sandown is probably a stiffer track than Ascot and I can’t see dropping back to two miles being a problem for him.
That was impressive! 🏆
Suprise Package powers clear of the field to take the Paddy Power Imperial Cup Handicap Hurdle in the hands of James Bowen for Peter Fahey 💥@paddypower @james_bowen_ @PeterRacing pic.twitter.com/2vkkugUJ5x
— Sandown Park (@Sandownpark) March 12, 2022
“It would be a dream to go over and win it again. It was kind of the plan with this horse that if we had a good run and a bit of luck we would head over to Sandown. Please God the weather looks set to change and we get a bit of rain which would be a help for us.
“He’s in good form. He did a little bit of work at Navan racecourse on Sunday morning and he seems fresh and well, so it is all systems go to head on over.”
Last year Surprise Package followed up his winning exploits at the Esher venue by finishing a respectable sixth in the County Hurdle, but Fahey does not envisage Zoffany Bay following suit and taking up his engagement in the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle.
On the possibility of running at Cheltenham, Fahey continued: “I think it’s highly unlikely at the moment because there is a couple of nice pots in Ireland for him as well.
“But we won’t rule anything in or out and will see how we get on Saturday then make a plan with the lads at Pimlico (owners) what we are going to do with him.”
Gary Moore’s Givega is also 8/1 in the Betfair Imperial Cup betting odds on the back of his course-and-distance success last time, while the Lower Beeding handler could also be represented by Authorised Speed who has not been seen since a disappointing favourite over the track and trip in the Tolworth Hurdle.
Another Sandown scorer to note among the list of 30 possibles is Jamie Snowden’s Hardy Du Seuil, while Soul Icon has won his last five and attempts to defy a 10lb rise for Kieran Burke.
Soul Icon (here leading Danzini) will bid for a 6-timer in the @Betfair Imperial Cup, live on @itvracing & @RacingTV a week tomorrow, as long as ground is good @chamberlinsport @olibellracing @LeglockLuke @nickluck @LydiaHislop pic.twitter.com/2bgoBqCHw6
— Keiran Burke Racing (@KBurkeRacing) March 3, 2023
Charlie Longston’s Paramount and Dan Skelton’s Playful Saint are others to arrive on the back of a victory, with Skelton also represented in the entries by Knickerbockerglory and one-time hot juvenile prospect In This World who could return from 491 days off the track.
Betfair Imperial Cup betting odds
8/1 Givega, Iceo, Man O Work, Parramount, Zoffany Bay
10/1 Hardy du Seuil, Monviel, Playful Saint
12/1 Authorised Speed, Hystery Bere, In This World, Knickerbockerglory, Salsada, Samarrive, Soaring Glory, Soul Icon
View the latest horse racing odds
All odds and market correct at date of publication