Pipe lands two more in title race

Martin Pipe strengthened his grip on the trainers’ title with another two winners at Cheltenham yesterday as he continued to pull away from rival Paul Nicholls.

Martin Pipe strengthened his grip on the trainers’ title with another two winners at Cheltenham yesterday as he continued to pull away from rival Paul Nicholls.

Tango Royal and Contraband were following up Wednesday’s treble for the Nicholashayne handler.

Pipe was surprised at Tango Royal’s 12-1 success in the Nicholson Holman Cup Handicap Chase.

Tony McCoy rode a patient race on the grey before picking off New Bird approaching the last and going on to score by six lengths.

The trainer said: “He was always travelling well today and hopefully will continue running during the summer.”

McCoy donned the silks of Pipe’s principal owner David Johnson on Contraband and the combination were too much for Self Defense in the Gloucestershire Trainers’ Championship Novices’ Hurdle.

Contraband forged a length and a quarter clear up the hill after the latter had looked a shade unwilling to go by.

Pipe is excited about the future for Contraband and said: “He’s going to be a rattling good chaser one day and has had a good year since we bought him at the Newmarket horses in training sale.

“I thought he was my only realistic chance of a winner today. When Self Defense came at him twice he kept going.”

McCoy went on to complete a treble on Golden Odyssey for Mary Reveley in the Lady Rebecca Mares’ Only Standard Open NH Flat Race.

Silver Charmer gave West Country trainer Stuart Howe the biggest jump-race success of his career when benefiting from a masterful ride from Timmy Murphy to land the Servo Computer Services plc Mares’ Only Handicap Hurdle.

Murphy’s riding, including on Hi Cloy in the Powers Gold Cup at Fairyhouse earlier in the week, has been a joy to behold recently and on 20-1 chance Silver Charmer he was at his brilliant best.

Having switched the mare off, he turned down the hill stone last of the 17 runners and then began to pick off his rivals one by one.

He arrived with plenty of horse underneath him to lead at the last and pulled clear up the hill to beat Kombinacja by three lengths, with Kentford Grebe another length back.

Owing to her preference for left-handed tracks, Howe will not be taking Silver Charmer to Punchestown, and he was just pleased to revel in the triumph.

He said: “She’s been unlucky throughout her career and might well have won a £50,000 (€74,000) novices’ hurdle at Aintree last year but for falling two out. She was also unlucky last time when four horses fell in front of her and her jockey was unseated.”

Experience of the course proved a boon to Penthouse Minstrel, who repeated his success here in the autumn when proving eight lengths too strong for Motcomb Jam in the Endsleigh Insurance Novices’ Handicap Chase.

This was an appropriate victory as far as the 10-1 shot’s groom Nicky Stephens was concerned, as she lost four front teeth when riding out the gelding on Bank Holiday Monday when he threw up his head and struck her in the face.

Trainer Ron Hodges missed seeing the win as he was taking a horse to be X-rayed, but owner Bob Andrews joked: “I guess he had to win in order to pay for Nicky’s dental work!”

Charlie Mann has his horses in fine form and he was on the mark again when Wintertide landed the Renault Van Handicap Hurdle under Noel Fehily.

Fast ground holds no fears for Wintertide, who will now head to Haydock for a three-mile handicap hurdle on Swinton Hurdle day.

It has been a wretched week for Nicholls and it did not improve when Foxhunters winner Earthmover had an off day in the Jacuzzi UK Hunters’ Chase, finishing two lengths and 10 behind Bright Approach and Macgeorge.

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