Division strikes Pipe

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Martin Pipe's attempt to go through the card at Taunton today has been hampered by the division of one of the races.

The champion trainer has declared 15 horses at the meeting, in which he is sponsoring every event. However, the splitting of the Chester Barnes 50th Birthday Novices' Hurdle has left Pipe with just one representative, Decyborg, in division two of the race. Decyborg, a French import, has been soundly beaten in two starts over fences for Pipe.

Pipe could get off to a flying start in the Martin Pipe Winners Galore Novices' Hurdle, in which his three runners are likely to dominate the betting.

He has a strong hand in all the other races although the card looks much more competitive than those in which Pipe has gone closest in the past. He landed the first five winners at Exeter in August 1991 and the first four on the same course four years later.

n Angus Crichton-Miller, a director of the Rank Organisation when it sponsored the King George VI Chase, is to succeed Sir Paul Fox as chairman of the Racecourse Association.

n Seven replacement fixtures have been sanctioned by the BHB to compensate for those lost to the weather.

Extra Fixtures: Hereford (17 February), Carlisle (18 Feb), Wolverhampton (21 Feb), Wetherby (27 Feb), Plumpton (28 Feb), Exeter (7 March) and Fontwell (11 March).