Challenger rounds off a Pipe treble

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Proof that Martin Pipe kept his string fit during the freeze-up came at Exeter yesterday with a 129-1 treble from his Nicholashayne stable. In contrast, a number of leading contenders from other yards ran well below expectations.

David Bridgwater, Pipe's stable jockey, rode all three winners, Crosa's Delight, Lisotho and Challenger Du Luc. In the 17-runner fifth race, the yard's Sohrab and Cadougold finished second and third. Pipe was denied the opportunity of a four-timer - fog forced the card's abandonment after the fifth event.

The trainer has high hopes for Challenger Du Luc, who will be aimed at the Sun Alliance Chase. The six-year-old took the lead three fences from home and beat Feel The Power, the well-backed favourite, by 12 lengths.

"He'll be entered at Cheltenham as this was a hot contest, but this horse has got plenty of gears and has won like a real racehorse, jumping superbly all the way round," Pipe said.

n Dance Beat ran an excellent trial for next Saturday week's Ladbroke Hurdle when justifying favouritism in the Fairyhouse Handicap Hurdle in Ireland yesterday. Dance Beat escapes a penalty for the Leopardstown race and her trainer, Jessica Harrington, is hoping champion jockey Charlie Swan will be available again.