Racing: Pipe to conjure up Chatam win

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The Independent Online
THE FIRST six weeks of 1993 have confirmed the Martin Pipe magic is still there. After a sluggish start, by his standards only, the Wellington trainer is running away at the top of the table, currently saddling winners twice as fast as any other trainer, and heading remorselessly towards a fifth consecutive double century.

What though is this Pipe magic, the formula that has kept him so far ahead of the field in recent years? One school of thought is that the bookmaker's son has created a mystique that attracts owners and mesmerizes rivals, and that he has used science, real and imagined, to promote his cause.

'People like 'magic' and that works in two ways for Martin Pipe,' one well-known Newmarket trainer says. 'If people are half-thinking he's got this 'magic' he'll always have plenty of horses, and the other big advantage is that while other trainers think he's got this 'magic' they have an excuse to lie down and roll over on their backs.

'Some people have paid attention to Martin Pipe's methods, but the rest of them are like rabbits in the headlights and their horses are beaten before they come under orders. The Pipe horse goes to the front and that's the end of the race.'

This observer also believes Pipe's undoubted abilities are magnified by the dross around him. 'Pipe's not what you would call the old-style horseman and perhaps that's an advantage,' the Newmarket man says. 'He's not encumbered by tradition.'

'He's just so consistently good at training that you have to give him 9 1/2 out of 10, but a lot of it is done against people who are completely amateur about the thing and who should not be allowed to have a horse in training. Most of them don't even think let's get our horses fit.'

One of Pipe's greatest gifts, the ability to get his horses fit first time, gets a particularly probing examination in Ireland tomorrow, when he runs Chatam.

The nine-year-old, who made his seasonal debut in a race called the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup at Newbury in November, now runs in a race at Leopardstown called, thanks to a large slice of corporate inspiration, the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup.

Cahervillahow, who runs in the cerise-hearted colours of Mrs Miles Valentine, would be the topical winner of this race, but there are others with more than calendar coincidence on their side, including the home hope General Idea, and Jodami, who has just The Fellow ahead of him in the Gold Cup betting.

Jodami and Chatam were second and fourth to Sibton Abbey at Newbury, but at the revised weights Chatam (3.50) can justify the estimation of his trainer. 'He's a very good horse indeed, among the best I've trained,' Pipe says. 'He's still a relatively young horse, who's gradually strengthened into his big frame.'

Pipe should also be on the mark this afternoon at Newbury, where MILFORD QUAY (nap 1.35) looks good value, but may be frustrated in Britain's most valuable race, the Tote Gold Trophy. This should go to Lift And Load (next best 2.10), who has enjoyed a carefully paced season in the lead up to this event.

If Katabatic (1.00) comes back to his best, as his trainer Andy Turnell assures us he is about to, he will again rub Waterloo Boy's nose in it, while if Norton's Coin returns to his best the Berkshire crowd may be in collective shock.

The old soldier has recently been an impostor of the horse that won the 1990 Gold Cup, and his race may be more instructive for gauging the progression of the Grand National favourite, Romany King.

Another greybeard, Past Glories, makes his first appearance for 722 days when embarking on a chasing career at Catterick. The 10-year-old, who was third in the 1990 Champion Hurdle, is sure to need the outing in what looks a difficult race to predict.

Uttoxeter, where television coverage is increasing along with the course's reputation as a go-ahead operation, stages an event for fledgling fencers which looks easier to fathom. Captain Frisk (1.40), who has been keeping better company than this, looks the one to be on.

The victory of Sikera Spy at Bangor yesterday will ensure Stirrup Cup, who beat her at Nottingham last month, is well fancied in the staying handicap chase. This should mean even better odds about Kentish Piper (2.40).

The other two televised races may fall to Richard Rowe. The Sussex trainer saddles Trojan Call (3.10) and a horse, who, if Cahervillahow fails, should rescue the weekend for romantics. Her name is Stupid Cupid (2.10).

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