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Geraghty has the magic touch

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Barry Geraghty is pictured nearing his victory in the Stan James Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy on Champion Day at Cheltenham Racecourse, Cheltenham (Tim Ireland/PA Wire)

Barry Geraghty is pictured nearing his victory in the Stan James Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy on Champion Day at Cheltenham Racecourse, Cheltenham (Tim Ireland/PA Wire)

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Barry Geraghty is pictured nearing his victory in the Stan James Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy on Champion Day at Cheltenham Racecourse, Cheltenham (Tim Ireland/PA Wire)

Bidourney is the clear market leader to continue the Pipe family's love affair with the Imperial Cup at Sandown this afternoon.

Unbeaten in two bumpers and three hurdles, the son of Voix Du Nord has been impressive on his last couple of starts in particular. Over this course and distance in soft ground three weeks ago, he made all and took control of the race from a long way out.

It wasn't a great novices' hurdle, but Bidourney is clearly a smart prospect. In normal circumstances, his being a four-year-old would constitute a negative in the hurly burly of a race like this.

However, two of David Pipe's three previous winners were also juveniles. Under just 10st 8lb on his handicap debut, Bidourney could prove formidable, but a rating of 140 is a slight cause for alarm.

For example, Gaspara and Ashkazar, Pipe's two previous four-year-old winners of the two-miler, ran off 126 and 135, while his latest Imperial Cup winner Baltimore Rock got in off just 125, 12 months ago.

In winning its last two starts by an aggregate 26 lengths, Bidourney might not have been done any favours, so Tom Scudamore's mount appeals more as an each-way option here. Big-race king Paul Nicholls has a leading contender in the Betfair Hurdle fourth Calipto and Harry Whittington's Newbury sixth Arzal could also figure after being badly hampered that day.

The one that is worth taking a chance on, though, is Nicky Henderson's West Wizard. The King's Theatre six-year-old has only ever run at Kempton, readily winning a bumper two years ago before getting turned over at short odds by Sgt Reckless on his hurdle bow in November 2013.

Time has proven that to be a perfectly commendable effort as the first two drew 38 lengths clear.

On his next start a full 12 months later, West Wizard was held by Arzal, which he meets off 7lb better terms now. Arzal must also represent place value at 12/1, but West Wizard is the one with the most scope to step up. He did show progress on that comeback outing when second to subsequent winner, Minella Rocco, a month ago.

With Henderson's team firing, he warrants the benefit of the doubt at 12/1 to collect for Barry Geraghty.

Indo Sport