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Sandown Park

  • 15:50 bet365 Gold Cup Chase 3m 5f 110y

  • (Grade 3 Handicap) £150,000 added 5yo+ 19 ran
  • Winner £85,425 2nd £32,055 3rd £16,050 4th £7,995
  • Going: Good
  • Surface: Turf
    Weighed In
  • Winning time: 7m 24.30s
  • Off time: 15:50:18

View from connections ahead of Saturday's bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown Park.

Last Updated: 26/04/13 1:36pm

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Hold On Julio: Representing Alan King

Hold On Julio: Representing Alan King

Alan King aims to end what has been a superb second half of the season on a high as Hold On Julio looks to recapture his best form in the bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown.

It has been a few years since the master of Barbury Castle was finding the back of the net at the top level with regularity thanks to the exploits of Katchit, Voy Por Ustedes and My Way De Solzen, and the Scot endured a difficult start to the most recent campaign.

Stable stars Medermit, Invictus and Batonnier were all ruled out by injury, while Grumeti only recently returned.

However, a Coral Cup triumph at the Cheltenham Festival was a sign of things to come for King, as he clinched a Grade One prize at Aintree's Grand National meeting and only last week claimed a memorable victory in the Scottish Grand National with Godsmejudge.

His latest big-race candidate has something to prove following some below-par efforts, but was impressive at Sandown in January of last year and is fitted with blinkers for the first time.

King said: "I was very disappointed with his last run at Ascot - he's going to have to jump an awful lot better than that on Saturday. We've gone for the blinkers and we're just hoping they will help him a bit.

"He was very good around Sandown last season and maybe he'll enjoy himself and jump better going back around there, we'll just have to see.

"He ran very well on his first run of the season at Cheltenham, but his jumping has let him down a bit since. He doesn't want heavy ground but whether he'd want it as quick as it's going to be at Sandown this weekend, I'm not sure."

The Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained Same Difference is a major contender on the back of victory in the Kim Muir at the Cheltenham Festival.

The trainer's son, Sam, takes over in the saddle from amateur Ryan Hatch.

Twiston-Davies jnr said: "He seems well and he's been in good form since Cheltenham, where Ryan gave him a great ride.

"I rode him at Kempton the time before in the Racing Plus Chase and it was just a bit sharp for him around there. We made the running and it wasn't a case of him stopping, he just wants more of a test.

"This sort of trip on a track like Sandown should suit him very well. It's a big race and I would be delighted if we can end what has been a great season on a high."

Well Refreshed completed a hat-trick with a taking performance in the Grand National Trial at Haydock in February and trainer Gary Moore is hoping conditions are not too fast.

He said: "I spoke to Andrew Cooper (Sandown clerk of the course) and he said it will be no quicker than good ground and while that is not ideal, he will take his chance. He's won on good to soft before.

"He's had a nice break since Haydock as I was of the mind that would be his last race this season, but he's in such good order that we decided to run.

"He needs to jump a bit more cleanly but he's been schooling well at home recently. We're hopeful of a good run."On the day he will be officially crowned champion trainer for the first time since 1987, Nicky Henderson is represented in the feature event by Hadrian's Approach.

The six-year-old has been placed at Grade One level in novice company twice this season, most recently finishing third in Cheltenham's RSA Chase.

Henderson said: "He's in good form and has done quite a bit of schooling. It would be a good way to finish the season. I don't think I've won the race since Brown Windsor (1989) and I thought it would be a nice race for him."

Mr Moss finished a close second in the Grimthorpe Chase at Doncaster in early March and Welsh handler Evan Williams believes he could take his game to another level if he brushes up his jumping.

Williams said: "I wanted to go to the Scottish National and I wish I had done as the ground turned out beautiful up there. I regret not declaring him for that, but there you are.

"It's a good job we had him in at Sandown and that's where we will head. My target was the Grimthorpe and I thought the race would suit him. He ran a great race there and I can't help but think if we can sort his jumping out and be a bit more street-wise in these handicaps, then there is more room for improvement in this horse. He's got a lot of talent, but the fences can get in his way at times."

Mary Hambro trains just one horse from her base in Moreton-in-Marsh in Gloucestershire - last year's sixth, Dover's Hill.

The 11-year-old has not been seen in competitive action since that fine effort 12 months ago, with Hambro specifically targeting this big end-of-season prize

She said: "We took him away to Lambourn to school which was like taking him to a racecourse. He's had very little racing in his life so even though he's 11, he's always been a backward type and one I thought would be racing into his teens.

"It's been a bit nerve-wracking trying to get him right for one day as I train the horse on his own so I've got my fingers crossed."Noel Meade does not saddle too many runners on British soil outside of the big festivals but sends an interesting participant in Muirhead.

The 10-year-old finished well to grab sixth place in the Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse last time.

"We've always been of the opinion he's a better horse on better ground, which is why we're going to Sandown instead of running at Punchestown on the same day," said Meade.

"He ran a good race in the Irish National, coming from a long way back. He seems in terrific form since, which is why we're keen to give it a go. Davy Condon is going over to ride him, he knows him well, and we're hoping he'll run very well."

Joining Muirhead on the trip across the Irish Sea is Noel Glynn's stable star Becauseicouldntsee.

He failed to get competitive in the Grand National at Aintree, but previously ran well to finish fifth in the Kim Muir.

Glynn said: "He got a bad fall in Aintree two years ago and he hates it there now. He never attacked any of the fences compared to Cheltenham where he does really attack them. Hopefully he will do the same at Sandown.

"He's been fine since Aintree. We could have run him the following day because he didn't try a yard. He came back good. He ate up and drank up and we'll be hoping for a good run."

Paul Nicholls, who won the race last year with Tidal Bay, is responsible for the top and bottom weights, Michel Le Bon and There's No Panic.

"Michel Le Bon had been disappointing this season but that was down to the ground," said Nicholls.

"We put blinkers on him for a veteran's race last time and he won, but he went up 9lb which I think was very harsh for a race like that. I think he's got a lot to do. There's No Panic is at the other end of the weights, but the thing with him is he has got to prove he can stay."

Balthazar King represents Philip Hobbs and Richard Johnson.

"Balthazar King came out of the National really well and the horses seem to be coming back to form," Johnson told At The Races.

"I'm not sure if he didn't get home or perhaps wasn't just quite on-song. There wasn't anything to be negative about afterwards, but the horses didn't quite sparkle like we'd been hoping.

"He seems in very good form at home and Philip is very happy with the horses again now. Fingers crossed he can run very well. He gets the trip and the ground should be in his favour."

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