Racing: Bridgwater strikes at the first attempt

DAVID BRIDGWATER got his new career off to the perfect start when Rake Hey took the novices' handicap hurdle at Kempton yesterday. The four- year-old was the first runner as a trainer for Bridgwater, 27, who was forced to retire from the saddle in February after suffering recurrent problems with his right arm, initially damaged in a fall at Aintree.

Bridgwater, who rode 435 National Hunt winners during his career, which included a spell as stable jockey to Martin Pipe, was an emotional man after the victory. "It's a great start," he said. "I think I'm going to cry.

Bridgwater, who rents a 17-box yard at Mark Bradstock's Old Manor House stable at Letcombe Bassett, Oxfordshire, has a plan to keep his 100% record intact. "I shan't have another runner for six months," he said. "I will shut up shop."

Martin Pipe's stable have rebutted reports that Cyfor Malta has been ruled out of the Hennessy Gold Cup. The Murphy's Gold Cup winner was ante-post favourite when weights were published for Saturday week's Newbury feature, but doubts about his participation led William Hill and Ladbrokes to quote him "with a run" for the pounds 85,000 contest - which Pipe's stable jockey, Tony McCoy, will miss due to suspension.

Pipe, who won the race with Strands Of Gold and Chatam, has four other entries, including last year's third Eudipe, and a spokeswoman for his stable stressed yesterday: "No decision has yet been made."