Racing: Pipe plots a Japanese assignment for Tiutchev

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Tiutchev, the winner of the millennium Arkle Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, returns to the scene and identity of a previous triumph at Sandown on Saturday as he embarks on a campaign which is tailored to make him big in Japan.

Tiutchev, the winner of the millennium Arkle Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, returns to the scene and identity of a previous triumph at Sandown on Saturday as he embarks on a campaign which is tailored to make him big in Japan.

The 10-year-old will contest the Elmbridge Handicap Chase at Esher, a race he won 12 months ago, as he builds up to a programme which is expected to culminate in the valuable Nakayama Grand Jump.

Along the way, connections hope there will be no repetition of another element in Tiutchev's career, his propensity to succumb to colic. The gelding's box at Martin Pipe's yard is equipped with closed-circuit television to act as an early warning system against the recurrence of an illness which has nearly claimed his life in the past.

Tiutchev will be having his first run since last April, and his first for Pipe, when shouldering top weight of 11st 12lb on Saturday. "He is a definite runner and it was always the plan to start off here, have two runs in Britain and then go to Japan," Jerry Wright, a part-owner, said yesterday. "All being well he'll go for the Ritz Club Chase at Ascot then out to Japan for the prep race, the Pegasus, and then the Grand Jump itself.

"That was why we moved him from Nicky Henderson to Martin, as he has experience of preparing a runner for the Japanese race. Tony McCoy went down to school him the other day and he was very, very pleased with him."

There will, though, be no weekend escapade for Baracouda, the reigning Stayers' Hurdle champion, who had been a consideration for a British handicap debut at Sandown. The threat of a cold snap and the feeling that the eight-year-old does not necessarily need another run before the Festival has swayed connections.

"François [Doumen, the French trainer] was keen to run him at the weekend, but with bad weather forecast he decided to give it a miss in case the meeting was called off," Frank Berry, the racing manager to owner JP McManus, said yesterday.

A significant date for the National Hunt fraternity occurs on Tuesday, when the great and the good, the minor and the bad, converge on Claridge's Hotel in London W1, in an effort to gain maximum weight at the Grand National weights lunch, at the same time hoping their runner does not get saddled with too much avoirdupois for the great race on 5 April.

Considering that timing we should perhaps not expect too much vigour from some of the Aintree entries which contest another Saturday race, the National Trial at Uttoxeter. No accusations of impropriety however could ever be levelled against the Brandsby trainer Peter Beaumont, who has Hussard Collonges and Niki Dee among his Merseyside considerations, as well as Bobby Grant, who returns to the fray at Uttoxeter.

The 12-year-old has been allotted 11st 10lb, 2lb less than top weight Stormez – one of six Pipe-trained entries – and Beaumont anticipates a forward run. "Bobby ran a good race when second to Sackville in the Tommy Whittle at Haydock last month and I'm happy with him," the trainer said.

Niki Dee fell in last year's National and has not run since being pulled up at Perth three weeks later, but Beaumont added: "He's going the right way and hopefully we will get him to Aintree again."

Hussard Collonges is one of the leading fancies for the Cheltenham Gold Cup, following his fine effort when runner-up to Truckers Tavern despite conceding 15lb to Ferdy Murphy's charge at Haydock earlier this month.

It will be like a line of naughty boys outside the masters' room today at Portman Square, when the Jockey Club disciplinary committee meets to consider a raft of punishments.

Shane Kelly, the jockey, has most cause to put newspaper down the back of his pants as he faces a lengthy suspension under the "totting up" rule. Kelly was referred to Portman Square by the Wolverhampton stewards for misuse of the whip aboard Notanother earlier this month.

As the jockey has already been suspended for a total of 22 days for whip offences during the last 12 months, the local stewards referred the matter to the Jockey Club.

* A Tote Jackpot pool of £207,666 is carried forward to Lingfield today after punters were foiled for the second consecutive day on the final leg.

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