Racing: Strong Festival force for Pipe

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The Independent Online
AMONG last weekend's championship contenders, only Michael Dokes took more of a battering than Martin Pipe's prime Cheltenham candidates, but strength in depth means that the champion trainer will still assemble a powerful squad for the Festival in five weeks' time, writes Greg Wood.

Pipe may have a runner in all nine Grade One events at jumping's most competitive meeting, the entries for which were released yesterday. The comprehensive list of National Hunt's finest performers, which runs to almost 500 names, includes 38 residents of Pipe's yard, with Rushing Wild, beaten at Sandown on Saturday, joining Run For Free and Chatam in the challenge for the Gold Cup. Valfinet, the weekend's second Pipe failure, and Granville Again are entered for the Champion Hurdle.

Recession in Britain has caused inflation in the Irish entry, as the easy money of the Eighties no longer purchases their best young prospects. The total of 114, a rise of 16 on last year, includes Destriero and Vintage Crop, last year's Cesarewitch winner, in the Champion Hurdle.

CHAMPION HURDLE: Cheltenham, 16 March: Entries: Alcoy, Athy Spirit, Baydon Star, Beauchamp Grace, Bitofabanter, Chirkpar, Corrin Hill, Coulton, Crowded House, Desert Force, Destriero, Duke Of Monmouth, Egypt Mill Prince, Eyelid, Flakey Dove, Flown, Gaelic Myth, Good Profile, Gran Alba, Granville Again, Halkopous, Irish Peace, Jinxy Jack, Ketti, King Credo, Kribensis, Lift And Load, Mole Board, Montelado, Morley Street, Muir Station, Muse, Native Mission, Nomadic Way, Novello Allegro, Oh So Risky, Petrullo, Rodeo Star, Royal Derbi, Ruling, Sanndila, Satin Lover, Scrutineer, Seon, Spinning, Staunch Friend, Tiananmen Square, Tomahawk, Valfinet, Vintage Crop.

GOLD CUP: Cheltenham, 18 March: Entries: Another Coral, Black Humour, Blazing Walker, Bradbury Star, Cahervillahow, Captain Dibble, Chatam, Cherrykino, Cool Ground, Docklands Express, Garamycin, Garrison Savannah, General Idea, Gold Options, Henry Mann, Jamalade, Jodami, Kings Fountain, Local Whisper, Mutare, Norton's Coin, Royal Athlete, Run For Free, Rushing Wild, Ryde Again, Sibton Abbey, The Fellow, The Illywhacker, Tipping Tim, Topsham Bay, Very Very Ordinary.