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Horse Racing - Racing: Balco Coastal catches the eye for Sandown

A maximum field of 22 will line up for the traditional eve of Cheltenham big handicap, the Imperial Cup at Sandown on Saturday and, despite the presence of a red-hot favourite in the race, it looks wide-open this year.

Plenty of punters have already got stuck into the Nicky Henderson-trained Balco Coastal, who is 5/1 with bet365, and there's a distinct possibility he could be a handicap blot off a mark of 134. You can follow the action via our Sports Live Streaming platform.

He simply appeared to run out of stamina over 2m4f at Cheltenham last time and the drop back in trip will surely suit him, but there are plenty of other contenders at bigger prices with realistic claims.

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Symonds explains Hystery Bere plan

Tom Symonds, who used to work for Henderson, saddles one of those runners in Hystery Bere, who has been firmly mapped out for an Imperial Cup challenge under Aidan Coleman.

His trainer said: "Hystery Bere's Cheltenham run in January when third to Cormier [winner of the Morebattle Hurdle at Kelso last Saturday] was very good.

"He got a bit lost coming down the hill, but came up it very well. That form looks solid after Cormier's Kelso win last weekend."

Symonds added: "We asked Hystery Bere questions going from Fontwell, where he won on Boxing Day, to Cheltenham, and he answered them well.

"The Imperial Cup represents another step up in grade, but he has the right profile. We could have taken in a lesser race or two after Cheltenham, but chose to protect his mark for this race. We've enjoyed a nice clear run with him."

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