Racing: Quartet propel Pipe to record

IT WAS only a matter of time until Martin Pipe reached the latest landmark in his phenomenal career and the moment came at 4.04 yesterday afternoon, when Tony McCoy brought Bamapour home in front in the Newton Abbot Annual Members Claiming Hurdle. It was Pipe's 2,645th training triumph and a new 20th century record for jumps winners.

It took the previous holder of the mark, the late Arthur Stephenson, 46 years to achieve his 2,644 successes; it has taken pipe Pipe, nine- times champion, 24. Snipers may point to the advantages enjoyed by those operating in the modern era - more opportunities, improved transport - but progress inevitably means that playing fields in different eras are not level.

Pipe's obsession with winners comes not so much from a lust for glory, but a desire to be proved right. It will not worry him that his record came in a lowly claimer; in a way it was fitting as that was the level at which the first of the very many, Hit Parade, scored at Taunton in December, 1975.

With typical thoroughness, Pipe deployed a team of 12 at three of the 10 Bank Holiday meetings. The first two, Joliver at Fontwell and Maousse Honor at Newton Abbot, both won at long odds-on and after Doualago was beaten at Southwell it was left to Fabulon to equal the record in front of his trainer at the Devon course. An hour later, after news of defeats for Galix and Falcon Sale from elsewhere, Bamapour, who turned out to be his stable's final winner of the afternoon, sealed it.

Pipe, 54, will not be resting on any laurels, as he has two more records to chase. The first is the all-time jumps record, an estimated 2,955 set by Arthur Yates during the second half of the last century and the first few years of this; the second is Stephenson's all-time Flat and jumps combined score of 2,988.

Typically, Pipe, based at Nicholashayne on the Devon-Somerset border, took little of the credit himself, acknowledging the team effort that winning any race is. ``When I began all those years ago, I never though I would get this number of winners,'' he said. ``But I have a tremendous staff who have always backed me. And you can put Bamapour down to McCoy - only he could have got him home."

Another man's pursuit of excellence could continue at Haydock on Saturday and in Melbourne in November. Although the expected absence of the champion sprinter-elect Stravinsky from the next Group 1 race on the European circuit, the Sprint Cup at Haydock on Saturday, was confirmed at yesterday's five- day entry stage (leaving Arkadian Hero to represent Michael Tabor), Godolphin has left Diktat among the 21 entries. Should the four-year-old take part he would be aiming for an unprecedented 12th top-level victory of the season for Sheikh Mohammed's Dubai-based operation, and a 108th Pattern race worldwide since the team's launch in 1994.

Two of the Godolphin staying stars, Kayf Tara and Nedawi, top the weights for the Melbourne Cup at 9st 3lb. They are among nine foreign horses in the top 10 of the handicap for Australia's most famous race.

The pair, successful in the Gold Cup and St Leger respectively last year, are just ahead of John Oxx-trained Enzeli, winner of the Ascot feature this year, and John Dunlop's Silver Patriarch, both allotted 9st 2lb. Tie The Knot, first Australian horse home when sixth in the race last year, is on the same mark, followed by German entry Caitano (9-1), Godolphin's Central Park, City Honours and Sea Wave and James Fanshawe's Arctic Owl (8-13).

Alex Ferguson, among the sporting elite in another sphere, had a taste of success in terms of both business and pleasure yesterday. After Manchester United had beaten Newcastle, Chinatown, whom he owns in partnership with Ivan Allan, did his bit for beleaguered Peter Chapple-Hyam by winning at the Gosforth course.

And although there was action at Epsom yesterday, the best horse trained there was enjoying a moment of glory considerably further afield. Running Stag, pride of Philip Mitchell's stable, won his second big American prize of the year when he took the $300,000-dollar Breeders' Cup Handicap at Saratoga on Monday night.