Author: Alan Kelly
Cheltenham Festival 2017
Published: 07:59 08/03/2016
Recommendation - 1 Point Each-Way Starchitect 25-1 Sky Bet (non-runner-no-bet ) Martin Pipe Conditional Hurdle
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The Martin Pipe Conditional Handicap Hurdle on the final day of the Cheltenham Festival may not be top of every trainers’ wish-list as the race they would most like to win at the world’s greatest national hunt meeting as the extended 2m 4f contest for up and coming young riders does not possess the prestige associated with the likes of the Stan James Champion Hurdle and the Timico Gold Cup but as far as the Pond House stable of David Pipe is concerned the race named in honour of his record-breaking father is high on the handler’s ‘ bucket-list. ‘
Since the event was established in 2009 Pipe junior has sent out several leading fancies in an effort to win his 'dad’s race ‘, most notably with Gevrey Chambertin in 2013 who was backed as if defeat was out of the question going off the 9-4 favourite against his 22 rivals, although the mount of Tom Bellamy proved a major disappointment, being pulled-up after never travelling with any conviction.
With a maximum field of 24 for the race Pipe is only guaranteed the chance of having just the one runner - namely Starchitect who at number 17 is a certain starter should connections decide to take that route, as the stable’s next possible contender is Dell’ Arca who probably needs in the region of 40 entries to drop out in order to make the cut, making the 25-1 on offer about the Betfair Hurdle runner-up a potentially cracking value bet with Sky Bet who are going non-runner-no-bet on all races at the festival.
A repeat of that eleven length defeat at the hands of the unexposed Agrapart in Newbury’s ultra-competitive handicap hurdle should put the son of Sea The Stars in with every chance of landing whichever race the five-year-old ends up in next week, especially as Starchitect would have finished much closer to the winner but for a serious final flight mistake on his first outing for the stable.
Previously in the care of Donald McCain the gelding has already proved his ability on the course, finishing fourth in last season’s Fred Winter behind Qualando, and a rise of 6lb for his most recent effort looks far from harsh considering further improvement is more than likely. In a recent interview Pipe stated that a decision on which race the horse would go for at the festival is unlikely to be made until next week, saying: “ I haven’t a clue which race he will run in. I honestly don’t know. He ran over two miles in slow ground at Newbury and is in the Coral Cup, but it is a decision that will be left to the last minute as to what he runs in, I should imagine.”
Available at 25-1 for the Coral Cup with Bet365 and Stan James ( both non-runner-no-bet ) Starchitect can also be backed at 16-1 with the former for the County Hurdle on the same terms but the Martin Pipe is probably the easier of the three options ( if there is such a thing at the four-day extravaganza ) and that 25-1 with Sky Bet could look huge come Friday 18th March.