Racing: National trust in Kenny

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The Independent Online
IT IS SUPPOSED to be sunshine and cream down in the West Country, a happy place where the Famous Five roam and scrumpy is poured from stone jugs.

But, then again, there is the Beast Of Bodmin and a rivalry among two racehorse trainers which is a little less sweet than Ambrosia. Martin Pipe and Paul Nicholls are not the best of buddies. Indeed, if Nicholls had managed to get within touching distance of his neighbour after last year's Cheltenham Gold Cup then Pipe and his Adam's apple would now be in separate locations.

Nicholls was incensed that day by the manner in which See More Business was carried out of the Blue Riband by Pipe's Cyborgo. The memory still festers. When See More Business made glorious amends at last month's Festival one of the themes Nicholls was keen to pursue was that the Gold Cup victory had put him within touching distance of the trainers' championship, a trophy which has become as much a part of Pipe's life as his limp. If Nicholls can nick that prize from racing's tiny Goliath he will be uncontrollable with mirth.

The Ditcheat-based trainer is 1-2 (with Ladbrokes) to assume the throne with just over six weeks of the National Hunt campaign remaining. He is about pounds 50,000 clear of Pipe, but that advantage could be erased largely at a stroke should Pond House be successful in today's Scottish Grand National at Ayr.

Pipe runs Farfadet V and Tell The Nipper, and Nicholls, rather strangely for a man who has made his name with staying chasers, runs nothing. The two lock horns in four other contests on the card and their private battle will determine the championship's destination.

Nicholls may be rather worried about the Scottish National as Pipe's horses will be operating in the smallest field for the contest in 10 years. Tell The Nipper looks the more probable victor for Pipe, not least because he is the selection of Tony McCoy.

The one they all have to beat though is Young Kenny (4.05), whose owners decided not to go for the Grand National this year but wait until their horse became Old Kenny. He is turning into one of those most admirable of animals, a staying horse with as much courage as ability.

There are marriage-ending possibilities today with the BBC and Channel 4 serving up 11 live races between them. Thirsk's sole offering is the Classic Trial, though the Classic for which this is a guide is presumably the Namibian St Leger. The hyperbole will count as naught for the winner though, and that is likely to be Peculiarity (4.25).

At Newbury we search for a horse worthy to be a 2,000 Guineas candidate. Enrique and Killer Instinct both lost horribly last time out, but others have lost equally horribly since and Henry Cecil's pair have floated to the head of the ante-post market as the dregs have sunk.

Killer Instinct has again been conducting a slaughter on the Newmarket gallops, but those were the sort of messages we were getting before he folded like a soggy paper bag at Ascot on his only juvenile run. ENRIQUE (nap 3.00), at least, has won a race or two, though he was a disappointing favourite in the Dewhurst Stakes.

Cecil's Capri is reported to have flowered into something of an Adonis over the winter and will be a strong consideration for the John Porter Stakes, which will, in fact, be won by Persian Punch (2.30).

Mick Ryan runs Lady Rockstar, who has followed up a considerable run of victories with a considerable run of defeats, in the opener, but has better prospects in the Spring Cup. Right Wing will be fancied here following his win in the Lincoln, but John Dunlop's team may have to put their black armbands on again. Ryan is the one to be on, or, more exactly, his Silk St John (next best (3.30).