United poised for Imperial comeback

United could make her seasonal reappearance in the Sunderlands Imperial Cup at Sandown on Saturday.

United could make her seasonal reappearance in the Sunderlands Imperial Cup at Sandown on Saturday.

Trainer Lucy Wadham had pencilled in the Vincent O’Brien County Hurdle at next week’s Cheltenham Festival for her Grade One winner but is leaning towards the Sandown event instead.

“I think Sandown could be the plan,” Wadham told PA Sport.

“We had been looking at the County Hurdle but I’m not sure that would be ideal for a first run.

“They go off so fast at Cheltenham and we think Sandown might just be the better option for a first run in handicap company.”

The five-year-old has not run since notching a stylish win in the Champion Four Year Old Hurdle at Punchestown last April.

United subsequently sustained a cut which required surgery and then suffered a muscle injury just days before her intended return at Newbury last month.

“I’m really pleased with how she’s coming along but it has been disappointing how long it has taken to get her back,” added Wadham.

“We don’t know quite what we’ve got at this stage and we will have to throw her in the at the deep end – although, in theory, she could be well handicapped.

“Obviously, if she were to run well at Sandown we could still have the option of running at Cheltenham too.”

The German-bred daughter of Desert King is unbeaten over hurdles, having won her two other starts last season.

And although she is held in high regard, Wadham is reluctant to commit to a definite target with United.

“We just want to get her first run out of the way then we will have a clearer picture of where we are,” explained the Newmarket handler.

“If she were to run well, we would be looking towards Aintree, Punchestown or France but we need to get her first run in.”

Wadham also has Fenix among the 39-strong entry for the extended two-mile event.

Martin Pipe has made his usual block bookings with the likes of Nous Voila, Acambo, Miss Academy and Desert Air among a possible nine runners from Pond House.

Championship rival Paul Nichols has Bold Fire, Monte Cinto and Phar Bleu in the Listed race, while Motorway is the pick of Philip Hobbs’ trio of contenders.

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