Racing: Chatam heads Pipe's seven

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MARTIN PIPE may saddle almost a fifth of the Grand National field on Saturday. At yesterday's declaration stage 47 horses were left in the race (a maximum of 40 will be allowed to start) and seven of them had the champion trainer's name alongside.

Among the notables removed from calculations were the Gold Cup horses Cool Ground and Black Humour, plus Kim Bailey's Kings Fountain.

Pipe the trainer has always been a more proficient man than Pipe the communicator, and riding plans are still unclear for the Wellington septet, apart from a suggestion that Peter Scudamore is likely to ride Chatam.

Chatam aside, Pipe's other entries are Roc De Prince, Riverside Boy, Bonanza Boy, Paco's Boy, Skipping Tim and Obie's Train, though the last- named may struggle to make the cut.

Pipe, though, is a gabbler these days compared with Jenny Pitman, another with multiple interests. Pitman has four horses left in but no jockeys down to ride them. Mark, her son, will pick between Royal Athlete, the favourite, and Garrison Savannah.

Closing in on Royal Athlete in the betting lists are Romany King, runner-up 12 months ago, and Captain Dibble, the winner of the Scottish version last season. Ladbrokes and William Hill cut the former to 10-1 (from 12-1) and 9-1 (from 10-1) respectively, while Nigel Twiston-Davies's gelding is down to 8-1 with Coral.

Richard Dunwoody, who won on West Tip seven years ago, is on course for Aintree after recovering from an injury to his hand. He returns at Sandown today as preparation for Saturday's ride on Wont Be Gone Long.

Neale Doughty, another former winner, is also at the end of recuperation after damaging his neck, and will partner Gordon Richards's runners on Thursday as a prelude to On The Other Hand's National challenge.

GRAND NATIONAL (Aintree, Saturday): Coral: 7-1 Royal Athlete, 8-1 Captain Dibble, 9-1 Zeta's Lad, 10-1 Party Politics & Romany King, 16-1 others; Ladbrokes: 6-1 Royal Athlete, 8-1 Zeta's Lad, 10-1 Captain Dibble, Party Politics & Romany King, 14-1 Garrison Savannah, 16-1 Chatam, 20-1 others; William Hill: 13-2 Royal Athlete, 8-1 Zeta's Lad, 9-1 Romany King, 10-1 Captain Dibble & Party Politics, 12-1 Garrison Savannah, 20-1 Chatam & Givus A Buck, 25-1 others.

Evening racing is to be broadcast live on satellite television on a trial basis. The 'Sky Sports Super Seven', a two-hour programme, will feature seven races from two meetings in an experiment from 20 May to 28 June.

Victor McCalmont obituary, page 30