Paddy Power Imperial Cup wide open after favourite withdraws

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The Paddy Power Imperial Cup betting market is set for a shake-up after the ante-post favourite for the prestigious two mile handicap, Aegean Dawn, has been withdrawn by trainer Nicky Henderson.

When the entries were revealed on Monday afternoon he remained bookmakers’ favourite, but has since jumped poorly when schooling on Wednesday and misses the race with his Cheltenham participation also in doubt. Henderson has also removed Girogio Quercus and Owen Gelndower from the list, but will still be represented by Eradicate.

The winner of Saturday’s race will collect a £75,000 bonus if they can go on and land any race at the 2011 Cheltenham Festival next week and owner Henry Ponsonby has a great chance at the double. He believes his horse The Betchworth Kid, trained by Alan King, has got a "great each-way chance" following his fine fourth in the totesport Trophy at Newbury last month.

”Choc (Robert) Thornton rides The Betchworth Kid in the Imperial Cup and he’s in good order. He Schooled this morning and is at the top of his game,“ said Ponsonby.

"We think that the Sandown hill will suit him and he was finishing best of all at Newbury, where he had the whole field in front of him with two hurdles to go and then he was only beaten just over a length and a quarter.

"In another 30 to 50 yards he would have won and he wants a really true test.

"He is not going to be declared for the Coral Cup at Cheltenham but we are leaving him in the County Hurdle.

"If he did win at Sandown, Paddy's bonus would be more than considered - he's going for the bonus.

"With Aegean Dawn out of the Paddy Power Imperial Cup, he's got a great each-way chance."

However, a new favourite for Saturdays feature race at Sandown may appear in the form of David Pipes, Arrayan who has a nice racing weight with stablemate Ronaldo Des Mottes topping the card on 11-12.

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