Pipe is concerned as Festival approaches


WITH less than two weeks before the curtain comes up on Cheltenham's glittering prizes, Martin Pipe expressed concern about the well being of a number of his in mates.

Despite Superior Risk hacking up for the Crocombe Novices' Hurdle very easily by three and a half lengths from Yahmi at Taunton yesterday, Pipe revealed some of the horses at Nicholashayne have been off colour including stable stars Banjo and Cyborgo. "We've had bugs, coughs and colds in the yard for a couple of months and Banjo was one of the horses affected and that's why he misses the Gold Cup and although we have still exercised him today he's probably out for the season," admitted Pipe.

But Pipe is still hoping Cyborgo could turn out at Cheltenham, although he has yet to taste race course action this term. "Hopefully we'll get Cyborgo to the Festival for the Stayers' Hurdle but it's still touch and go as is everything in racing," said the former champion trainer.

Of Superior Risk, Pipe said: "On his first race for us over fences he was second at Newton Abbot but then fell at Fontwell and we put him over hurdles next as a confidence booster and he'll stay over hurdles now so that he retains his novice chasing status for next season.

The Bobtail Fox overcame some less than fluent jumping to land the Henlade Novices' Chase in the hands of Tony McCoy, galloping ten lengths clear of Channel Pastime after leading approaching three out. McCoy doubled up when forcing Nine O Three home by half a length over Touch Silver for the Blackdown Hills Handicap Hurdle.