The Martin Pipe Condition Jockey's handicap Hurdle was only established in 2009, but the race has alreaady produced some classic races, with past winners including Sir Des Champs, Don Poli and last year's winner Indefatigabe. Our resident tipster, Daryl Carter takes a look at the race, crunches the numbers and looks at the key stats for the race, before giving his verdict on each of the entries and an ante-post tip.
MARTIN PIPE HURDLE OVERVIEW
Gigginstown owned runners have had 4 winners from 12 runners and 5 further placed horses.
All of the 6 UK trained winners had run in at least 3 handicaps prior
10/12 winners had run in a graded hurdle
11/12 had won a hurdle race with at least 11 runners (bigger field experience)
No beaten favourite last time out has won
Horses carrying 11 stone or less are 0-89
MARTIN PIPE HURDLE CONTENDERS
COLUMN OF FIRE – 144 (Irish)
Gigginstown owned and fell at the final flight when well fancied in this race last year and has only been seen once this season and that came in a handicap at Navan under an inexperienced 7lb claimer. He sits on a handicap mark of 144 1lb higher than last season (143) but will need to be reassessed by the English Handicapper before this race and any more than 1lb will see him out of the 0-145 range for the race.
WIDE RECIEVER – 136
Could be the leading hope for the Irish if connections decide to take this route and he has acquitted himself well in Novice and Maiden Hurdles this season against some useful opposition. His sole victory was at Leopardstown when he comfortably landed a hot looking Maiden Hurdle over 2m of soft ground and the form of that race has received multiple boosts which in turn makes him look fairly treated here.
BEAR GHYLLS - 140
He has plenty of options but it would be very interesting should connections decide to take the handicap route with their potential top notcher. He made a mockery of the handicapper with his opening mark of 130 at Exeter and a 10lb rise was just deserved. This will be a lot more competitive and he will need to brush up his jumping in this big field handicap but his form has worked out at every turn and he is improving by the run.
DAMALISQUE – 136 (IRISH)
JP Owned and has hit the frame in 4/7 over hurdles with the most impressive of those when winning at Navan off a handicap mark of 123 over 2m4f. The eight-year-old failed to stay the 3m at Leopardstown at the Dublin Racing Festival off his new mark of 135 but a drop back in trip for this race could be on the cards. He doesn’t look the typical “plot job” type for this race but is an improver who could arrive here on an upward curve and 6/7 winners had run over further than 2m4f that season.
PIPESMOKER – 137
He ran a nice race over 2m in defeat on seasonal return on the 18th of Feb at Sandown when a mistake at the last saw his chance of gaining his first victory taken away. He was entitled to need that run and his Novice Hurdle form from last season in two runs makes his handicap mark look very lenient. He has Cheltenham experience after chasing home Chantry House (147) over 2m on hurdle debut in 2019 and his best work came at the finish. He was tried over this trip when he found only Sporting John (149) too good at Ascot on his second start over hurdles and this will likely be his handicap debut if turning up here and a big field scenario along with an emphasis on stamina can suit. Darkhorse.
CRAIGNEICHE – 139
A winner of 3/4 starts under rules and a winner of 2/3 hurdle runs with his only defeat coming to the useful, The Big Breakaway, at Newbury in December 2019. He returned to action with an excellent handicap victory off an opening handicap mark of 127 and was dealt a 12lb rise for his exploits. He is another unexposed handicapper from the Nicky Henderson yard but will need to improve again to defy this new mark.
DALLAS DES PICTONS
He went close in this race in 2019 off a handicap mark of 140 and after a respectable chase campaign in 2020 he has returned to hurdles this term and caught the eye at Punchestown behind the useful Bachasson (148). He currently sits on an Irish handicap mark of 138 and could prove to be another with this as the ultimate aim and it will be interesting to see what the English handicapper does.
MARTIN PIPE - BIG RACE VERDICT
There are several more horses that I could have written about for this piece all with valid claims and some not even in the betting markets at the moment but I like the claims of the English challenger PIPE SMOKER. It’s interesting that this will be his handicap debut and I like the back form in relation to his handicap mark of 137 and he has done excellently well considering his future lies over further than 2m. He has course experience and I think the big field strong pace scenario can suit. At the current time, he would be the ante-post pick.
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