Express success in Imperial Cup
Ebony Express caused a surprise to take the coveted Imperial Cup at Sandown, giving hard working jockey, Will Kennedy his first Graded success in the process. Trained by the Grand National winning trainer, Dr Richard Newland, the 6yo was brought down when still in contention in the Betfair Hurdle last time, but bounced back to winning ways today with a dogged performance.
After a false start first time, Ebony Express was kept prominent by Kennedy from the off and was still battling for the lead with long time leader, Rayvin Black, as the field turned for home. Last year’s runner-up Gassin Golf was also staying on gamely and it turned into a great battle between the trio.
Ebony Express was up for the fight, though and having stuck his head in front, came home 3/4 of a length to the good from a brave Rayvin Black. Gassin Golf was game back in third and Camping Ground stayed on for fourth.
Winning jockey, Kennedy said: “I’m absolutely delighted. I’ve had really good people supporting me this season, and today is a great day. This it means a lot.
“I’m surprised he was overlooked after Newbury, where I think I would have been fourth if he hadn’t been brought down.
“A few people missed that, but I was really looking forward to him today. He’s not very big, but he’s really tough.”
Trainer Newland added: “It’s a great thrill, one of my daughters is 21 today and we have a big crowd with us. I think they had a bit on!
“The Pipes are the only ones who have won the bonus (for winning this race and a race at Cheltenham) and I’d love to have least have a go (in County Hurdle).
“When he won his first two races he as very impressive, then it went wrong at Catterick as I rushed to get a third run in. He was coughing a bit and I was a bit stupid to run him there.
“At Newbury he was running well when he was brought down and since then he has been very good and working ever so well.
“He had a little leg infection in the week, but the vet did a great job in getting that sorted.
“On his best form he had a good chance of winning today and it was just a question of whether he brought his ‘A’ game.”
Photo: Julian Herbert/PA Wire
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