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Racing: Fears about Pipe's health exaggerated, says former assistant

A report that champion jumps trainer Martin Pipe has a serious wasting illness was played down by his former assistant, Chester Barnes, yesterday.

Barnes said on the Pipe stable's website: "We would like it to be known that the media reports regarding Mr Pipe's health have been slightly exaggerated. Although he is not 100 per cent fit and is on steroids, he was slightly misunderstood and the state of his health is not quite as serious as has been reported."

Pipe, 61, retired from training five months ago and is now working alongside his son, David, who has assumed control of the Pond House yard in Nicholashayne, Somerset.

Regarding his health, Pipe said: "I have had this muscle wastage problem and the doctors have put me on steroids. I say I'm fine, but it's not going to get any better."