The prestigious Cheltenham Festival is just two days away and local trainer David Pipe has a squad of runners heading up the M5 for 4 days of racing from Tuesday. He offers the following preview for racing enthusiasts and those who follow one of the sport’s most celebrated events:
“The Cheltenham Festival is the pinnacle of our sport, the Olympics of racing if you like – and there are no easy races there. I’ve been fortunate to train 13 winners at the Festival and will be hoping to add to that this time around. At this time many of my runners still have several possible engagements – the Festival handicaps are very much like a jigsaw puzzle. We will do our best to find out the opposition in each race and choose the target which gives us the best chance of success. This can go right down to the deadline which is 10am the day before racing. We will have plenty of runners over the four days and, hopefully, plenty of chances.
“Doctor Harper would appear to have be one of my best chances of the week and will run in one of the three mile handicap chases, either the Ultima on Tuesday or the Kim Muir on Thursday.
“Un Temps Pour Tout won the French Champion Hurdle back in June and has been running well without quite getting his head in front since switching to chasing. He could go in the Ultima Chase on Tuesday or possibly revert back to the timber in the World Hurdle on Thursday. He is a high-class horse and would have a chance wherever he goes.
“Dynaste has been a tremendous servant through the years and he will run once again in the Ryanair Chase – a race that he won in 2014. He isn’t getting any younger but he put in a decent effort at Ascot last time when runner-up to Silviniaco Conti and he has each way claims.
“Another former Festival winner Ballynagour is among our potential runners and he has a handful of entries.
“Starchitect will run in the County Hurdle on Friday and he ran an excellent first race for the stable when second in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury on his seasonal reappearance. He is 6lbs higher in the handicap now but a fast run two miles should suit him well (as it did when he was fourth in last year’s Fred Winter). He is another with sound claims in a wide open race.
“Kings Palace has always looked a star in the making although he has disappointed on his last two trips to the Cheltenham Festival. I haven’t lost faith in him and he could still run a big race and he has entries over hurdles and fences.
“Unfortunately last year’s Champion Bumper winner Moon Racer will not line-up at Cheltenham next week. We just ran out of time with him following a setback earlier in the season and we will look at the Aintree or Punchestown Festivals with him next month.”
Follow the Festival and David Pipe on http://www.davidpipe.com and Twitter handle @DavidPipeRacing.