Owner explains outflow from Pipe's stable

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One of Martin Pipe's defecting owners yesterday defended the beleaguered champion jumps trainer. Pipe was left reeling after the Independent Twine Manufacturing Company joined Darren Mercer and George Bisgrove in removing horses from his yard, but Independent Twine's director Keith Maguire said: "There's no particular problem with the Pipe stable. We have not parted on acrimonious terms."

Mercer withdrew his 10 horses last month and shortly afterwards Pipe's stable jockey, David Bridgwater, resigned.

But Maguire added: "I was surprised that David Bridgwater left but I don't think that you can read too much into this. The ebb and flow of owners happens all the time.

"As far as I am concerned there isn't a problem at the stable. We haven't fallen out with Martin. We simply want to be more involved with our horses."

n The Tote has announced the retirement of its chief executive, Brian McDonnell, after 15 years in the post. He will be succeeded by John Heaton, who will be appointed to the Tote board for a year initially.