Pipe can bag another Kim Muir with Doctor Harper

The exciting Limini gets the nap to take this afternoon’s mares’ novices’ hurdle for the dominant Willie Mullins-Ruby Walsh team.

Pipe can bag another Kim Muir with Doctor Harper

Despite not jumping fluently, the five-year-old made a winning debut for her current stable last May at Punchestown and the form of that race has worked out particularly well.

Off from that day until late January, she stepped up to Grade 3 company and made light of the opposition.

She may lack experience over hurdles, but there’s no doubt she has immense talent and if she fulfils that potential over the next 12 months we could be talking about her in the same breath as Annie Power and Vroum Vroum Mag.

For now, though, her task is considerably more manageable than that which her stablemates overcame this week, and she is confidently expected to account for her rivals, headed by Smart Talk.

The Kim Muir chase has been lucky for the Pipe family and Doctor Harper can give trainer David Pipe his third success in the race, which would equal his father Martin’s tally in the amateur riders’ race.

The lightly raced eight-year-old has had just three outings over fences, and progressed nicely with each effort.

Second behind JLT Novices’ Chase hope Garde La Victoire on his penultimate start, he made the breakthrough with a wide-margin victory at Leicester last time.

That came over two miles, and this race is over three miles two furlongs, but that’s a positive as he had high-class form over a similar trip over hurdles.

He looks well handicapped off a mark of 141, and can land the spoils under Will Biddick.

The landscape changed dramatically when Vautour was confirmed for the Ryanair Chase and, based on the fact he was so impressive here last year and was one of the long-odds favourites for this season’s Gold Cup, it’s no surprise Willie Mullins’ runner is a very short price to add this to his Festival haul.

It’s a little disconcerting that his owner has repeatedly reported the horse not be showing the same spark as prior to last year’s renewal, but jockey Ruby Walsh has since stated that he worked much better last week.

With his outstanding form at this track and the way the stable’s horses have been running this week, he is hard to oppose, though his price may not appeal to everyone.

Road To Riches was third in last season’s Gold Cup and wouldn’t be out of place in this year’s renewal.

However, connections have decided to go down this route.

He won over a similar trip on heavy ground at Clonmel in November but whether or not he has the pace to cope at this grade on quicker ground is up for debate.

He has the class to go close but must bounce back from a disappointing display in the Irish Gold Cup.

Valseur Lido was in front and travelling well until coming a cropper at the last in the aforementioned Irish Gold Cup.

That was a step up on his previous effort, in the King George, but he has a considerable amount to find with stable companion Vautour on that form and on their form in last season’s JLT Chase and the previous year’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.

If there’s a horse at a big price which may be able outrun his odds, and reach the frame it could be Gilgamboa.

He wasn’t at his best when beaten a long way in the Irish Gold Cup, a race for which he had been strongly supported, but his previous form tells us he’s much better than that.

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