Off to Sandown

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Landed. Showered. Handicapping. Virgin Atlantic Lounge. Patsy Cline singing Crazy in the background. Now, Stand by Me.

Steve Jobs would be proud as I juggle iPhone, iPad and MacBook Pro. Not bad, better than my office, actually. Waiting for a lift to Sandown allows time to chill, write, prep.

Team Valdez split in two, as I’m the only one who opted to go racing at Sandown. My theory is power through the jet lag.

Good card at Sandown, including Imperial Cup – the winner will be eligible for a 100,000 pound bonus if he wins any race at Cheltenham. It’s been done before. Overshadowed by Cheltenham, somewhat, but still a solid card to whet the appetite for the best week in sport.

No news is good news on the Valdez front. He’s hovering around 8-1, 9-1, about fifth choice for Tuesday’s Arkle. Dry forecast. Nearly there.

Questions will be answered.

My big question, obviously, is about Valdez. Is he good enough? Can he replicate (and improve) his electric performance at Newbury two starts ago? Is he better than his workmanlike effort at Doncaster in his most recent start? Can he oust a Champion Hurdle winner and a Supreme Novices’ winner? Can he provide his American owners their greatest racing day?

As for other questions, ahem, real questions beyond the nepotistic ones of a writer/owner (dangerous combination), well, they come in many forms and go in many directions.

Can Quevega become the first horse in Cheltenham history to win six consecutive renewals of the same race?

Can Hurricane Fly stave off the heirs to his throne in the Champion Hurdle?

Can Big Buck’s turn back time – and Annie Power – in the World Hurdle.

Which McManus handicapper was, indeed, laid out for this?

Can Hunt Ball erase his American foray and become a two-time winner at the Festival?

How many can Willie Mullins really win?

Did The New One’s last-hurdle mistake in the Christmas Hurdle really cost him the race?

Can Tap Night win one for American breeding?

Who will dance while Sprinter Sacre sleeps?

Can A.P. add another chapter to his library of brilliance?

How good is Briar Hill…Red Sherlock…Vatour…Irving…Kings Palace…Le Rocher…Pendra…?

How good are you?