Murphy's the target as Pipe cruises towards title

The biggest surprise of the jumps season so far was the news that Martin Pipe, the workaholics' workaholic, is currently enjoying a Caribbean cruise, and called in at the Breeders' Cup in Florida at the weekend merely for fun. It must have been the first time for years that Pipe had been to a race meeting at which he did not have a runner.

The biggest surprise of the jumps season so far was the news that Martin Pipe, the workaholics' workaholic, is currently enjoying a Caribbean cruise, and called in at the Breeders' Cup in Florida at the weekend merely for fun. It must have been the first time for years that Pipe had been to a race meeting at which he did not have a runner.

That said, of course, it would be no surprise to find Pipe emerging from the cruise liner at landfall accompanied by a horse he had claimed from a race on the Gulfstream undercard. His brain will be working even if his body is not, and while he was taking it easy in Florida on Saturday, six more winners were being added to his total for the season. That now stands at 75, which is already more than just a handful of his rivals will manage all year.

Pipe is also well on the way to his first half-a-million in prize money, and will hope to make further progress this weekend when he - or rather, his son, David - will saddle Majadou and Tresor De Mai in the Murphy's Gold Cup at Cheltenham, a contest he has won three times in the last four years. The bookmakers all made Majadou favourite for the race after yesterday's five-day declaration stage, at prices ranging from 5-2 all the way up to 4-1.

Majadou, who was an easy winner of the Mildmay of Flete Chase at the Festival in March, is expected to be the chosen ride of Tony McCoy, but the rider of the likely spare ride will not go to post without hope.

"Majadou is well in himself and we are obviously hoping for a big run from him as he's been pleasing in his work at home," David Pipe said yesterday. "Tresor De Mai has come out of last week's race at Exeter [when fourth to Flagship Uberalles] in good shape and he's always seemed as if he would be better over further than two miles, and he'll get that on Saturday. In my opinion there would not be too much between the horses, as although Majadou won at the Festival, the longer trip could bring out improvement in Tresor De Mai."

The bookies were less certain of the main danger to Pipe's team, though, with Tremallt, trained by Tom George, the choice of Ladbrokes at 6-1. This despite the presence in the race of the champion two-mile chaser, Call Equiname, who tops the weights and ensures that only seven of the field will not be running from out of the handicap.

Call Equiname is an 8-1 chance with Coral, an extraordinary price about a horse who always goes well fresh, and won the Victor Chandler Chase first time up last season.

"He always goes well first time out, he's in good order and he'd have a good chance," Paul Nicholls said yesterday. "He's had his problems in the past, but touch wood he's over those at the moment, and he's never been beaten over fences at Cheltenham. We've had plenty of winners in the last week and the idea was always to have the horses ready now."

Nicholls almost managed the unthinkable last season, when he took the tussle with Pipe for the trainers' title right down to the last week of the season. He is again the only obvious challenger to Pipe's dominance, and the Murphy's will be the first of many big-race head-to-heads over the coming months.

"It would have been nice to win the title, but I'm not even thinking about it now," Nicholls said. "You just can't compete with the numbers, and that's what beat us in the end. On win money, we would have won, but it was the sheer numbers and place money that beat us."

A former resident of Nicholls's yard, Lake Kariba, is also among the Murphy's entries, though he is now owned by The Winning Line and trained by Venetia Williams, who also has The Outback Way in the race. Mister Morose, trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies, and Philip Hobbs's Stormy Passage will also have their supporters, but given the structure of the race, with so many horses out of the handicap and such class among those who race off their true weight, it is hard to see beyond half a dozen of the contenders even at this early stage.

Tremallt, meanwhile, is also among the 10 entries for the Edward Hanmer Chase at Haydock the same afternoon. Young Kenny, last year's Scottish Grand National winner, is the most interesting of the other names on the list, and was confirmed a definite runner yesterday by Peter Beaumont, his trainer. He will be without his regular rider, though, following Brendan Powell's injury last week, and Robbie Supple has been booked to take his place.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Recruitment Genius: General Factory Operatives

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links