Racing: Pipe on the mat over Celtic Son's progress

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The Independent Online

Martin Pipe and one of his jockeys, Jamie Moore, have been summoned before racing's beaks to answer charges under the so-called "non-triers" rule in the wake of the marked improvement shown by the hurdler Celtic Son since finishing fifth at Exeter last October.

Since getting off the mark over obstacles in a handicap back at the West Country track 18 days ago, the five-year-old, owned by David Johnson, has won three of his four starts in the ensuing 12 days, most recently at Warwick on Saturday in the race where most of the focus of attention was on the comeback of third-placed Strong Flow.

The 14-times champion trainer and last year's champion conditional rider will face the Jockey Club's disciplinary panel next month, with the 17th the date provisionally pencilled in.

The enquiry has been triggered by racing's rulers increasing desire for transparency. "It comes as a result of our process for reviewing the previous runs of horses which go on to show marked improvement and win a race," John Maxse, the Jockey Club's public-relations director, said. "Following Celtic Son's win at Exeter earlier this month we reviewed the gelding's run prior to its handicap debut.

"It was concluded that there was a case for Martin Pipe and Jamie Moore to answer regarding the running and riding of Celtic Son on his earlier outing at Exeter in October. Obviously, the horse has enjoyed considerable success since the turn of the year."

The panel will consider whether or not Pipe breached the rule regarding giving the rider such instructions necessary to ensure the horse ran on his merits. Moore will have to face the charge of whether he intentionally failed to ensure that the horse ran on its merits.

Celtic Son made the transfer to Nicholashayne after hacking up in a heavy-ground Thurles bumper in 2003, but failed to make much of an impression in three such races for Pipe in February and March last year, including 18th of 24, at 66-1, at the Cheltenham Festival. On his first three runs over hurdles (the middle one of which is the race under review) in the autumn on ground good or faster he showed a certain amount of promise. His first victory came with a step up in distance on soft ground in a very moderate novices' contest and he is now judged 23lbs better than the rating he acquired then.

There was news yesterday of two of the supporting cast for the stayers' crown at the Cheltenham Festival. The Nicky Richards-trained Monet's Garden, impressive when beating Monkerhostin in a Grade Two race at Windsor in November but equally disappointing as an odds-on favourite in a lesser event at Cheltenham last month, looks likely to return to Prestbury Park for the Cleeve Hurdle tomorrow week. And yesterday at Gowran Park, Tom Taaffe's charge Emotional Moment turned the Grade Three Galmoy Hurdle into a procession, beating the four-timer-seeking novice Homer Wells by 25 lengths.

The main event in Ireland this weekend is the AIG Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown on Sunday, but Harchibald, favourite for the real thing at Cheltenham, will be an absentee because of the rain-soaked ground and will now head straight for the Festival. Hardy Eustace, the reigning champion, will be declared for the Grade One two-miler this morning, but heavy ground may yet rule him out too.

Kieren Fallon made a flying visit to chilly Britain from America to ride at Lingfield on Wednesday; his great rival Frankie Dettori is keeping warm in Dubai, where the valuable winter carnival, which climaxes with the $6m (£3.2m) World Cup on 26 March, got under way yesterday. But the Italian was out of luck in six rides, including the first two Godolphin runners of the year, unplaced Lydgate and third-placed Rosencrans, at the start of the operation's 12th international campaign.

Horses from 10 nations were in action at Nad Al Sheba, 97 of them vying for more than £364,000 in purses. British-based runners claimed two of the first prizes: Compton's Eleven, ridden by Sam Hitchcott for Mick Channon, led home a European clean sweep in the first turf sprint - he was followed in by One More Round (Dermot Weld), Twilight Blues (Jeremy Noseda) and Simianna (Alan Berry) and Gary Carter's mount, Prince Aaron, trained by carnival first-timer Conrad Allen, beat Jonny Ebenezer (David Flood) in the other.

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