Racing: Timely win makes Moore merrier

Victory at Lingfield gives the beleaguered Nicholshayne team something to smile about

A dreadful week for Martin Pipe and Jamie Moore ended in the best possible style yesterday at Lingfield, where the trainer and jockey produced 14-1 shot It Takes Time to win the afternoon's most prestigious contest, the totesport Chase. And there was a certain ironic quality to the name of the 11-year-old because time, to the surprise of most present, was just what the three members of the Jockey Club's disciplinary panel did not take before they branded Pipe and Moore cheats at a hearing in London on Thursday.

A dreadful week for Martin Pipe and Jamie Moore ended in the best possible style yesterday at Lingfield, where the trainer and jockey produced 14-1 shot It Takes Time to win the afternoon's most prestigious contest, the totesport Chase. And there was a certain ironic quality to the name of the 11-year-old because time, to the surprise of most present, was just what the three members of the Jockey Club's disciplinary panel did not take before they branded Pipe and Moore cheats at a hearing in London on Thursday.

The two men have until close of play tomorrow to decide whether or not they will appeal against the severe punishments handed out to them - a fine of £3,000 for Pipe, a 21-day suspension for Moore, and a 40-day ban from running for the horse at the centre of it all, Celtic Son - after seven minutes of deliberation following nearly three hours of evidence. But in the meantime, they, and owner David Johnson, can savour the best result of It Takes Time's career, a Grade One victory with a £58,000 first prize.

Moore rode a patient and well-judged race on the veteran gelding in the two and a half-miler, closing from off the pace to stalk trailblazing Ollie Magern turning for home. It Takes Time jumped clumsily at the first two of the three fences in the straight, but had enough reserves to join Ollie Magern and last year's winner Hand Inn Hand going to the last obstacle and then find hitherto unsuspected powers of acceleration to quicken two lengths clear. "He almost sprinted," said a delighted Moore, "we didn't think he ever found much off the bridle, but he did today." In London, last season's leading conditional was found guilty of not trying hard enough on subsequent multiple winner Celtic Son, but there was no mistaking his determination yesterday. "It's been a bad week and I needed a bit of a boost," he added. "But although winning today meant a massive amount, it won't make up for 21 days without a ride, because all I want to do is ride horses."

Moore will have to think carefully about an appeal for, if it was held before Cheltenham and failed, it would rule him out of riding at the Festival. It Takes Time has a number of options at that meeting, with the Daily Telegraph Festival Trophy an obvious potential target. But before that, the durable, if sometimes enigmatic, campaigner could take in Saturday's Racing Post Chase at Kempton.

But, the appositeness of the winner apart, much of the attention in the race surrounded the return to action after 296 days of Iris's Gift, winner of last year's Stayers' Hurdle. The eight-year-old's eagerly awaited chasing debut had been delayed by the persistent viral infection that has blighted Jonjo O'Neill's season, and it was a bold call to pitch the powerful grey in at such a deep end on his first run over fences. But he jumped the bigger obstacles well, chasing the leader until weakening badly before the turn for home to finish a long way last.

Assorted Grand National trials in Britain and Ireland were headed by the Red Square Vodka Gold Cup at Haydock, a three and a half mile slog in the mud in which Forest Gunner scored a gutsy all-the-way win. The 11-year-old was headed by Double Honour, who had also been in the van the whole way, on the run-in, but rallied under Peter Buchanan close home to take the £69,600 prize, the day's richest, by a length and a half.

Forest Gunner won twice last year over the National fences, in the Foxhunter Chase in April and the Grand Sefton three months ago, and the state of the ground will determine whether he has a crack at the big one or opts for the shorter Topham Trophy. "On this going, I didn't think he'd stay the trip today, so I was pleasantly surprised," said trainer Richard Ford. "But on very soft ground, I'd certainly have doubts about the National."

In Ireland, Hedgehunter ran a first-class prep, making all to beat Pizarro a length and a half in the Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse. It was the nine-year-old's first run over fences since his heartbreaking last-fence fall in last year's National, although he had had several outings over hurdles in the interim. "I haven't even schooled him over fences since," said trainer Willie Mullins. "It's like riding a bike, they can either do it or they can't and if they can they don't forget."

At Wincanton another of the afternoon's successful front-runners, Inglis Drever, put himself in the Champion Hurdle picture, even if towards the frame rather than in the middle among the seven Irish contenders who head the betting. In his saddle, Tony McCoy grabbed the Kingwell Hurdle by the scruff as the tapes went up; his only worry came as the six-year-old started to jump violently left, but despite forfeiting ground over the last two flights he was five lengths too strong for Perouse.

One champion hurdler was on show in public yesterday, even if not on a racetrack. Kribensis, who won the Kingwell in 1990 as a prelude to his Cheltenham glory, was one of nearly 300 horses ridden to a non-hunting meet of the Thurlow Hounds in Newmarket as that particular racing community turned out en masse to showed its support for the banned sport.

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