Cheltenham Festival 2008 

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Pipe’s Strong Cheltenham Team

Having trained his first winner at The Festival in his first season as a licence holder last year, David Pipe looks set to increase his record this year, with a strong team preparing to travel up to Prestbury Park next month.

Leading the pack is Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle third favourite Osana, who chased home current market leader Sizing Europe in the £100,000 Grade Three Greatwood Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham on November 18 before returning to the track to record a facile eight-length win over Katchit in the £200,000 Grade Two International Hurdle. If successful on March 11, he would collect a £200,000 bonus, courtesy of Boylesports.

The Pond House handler, who took over operations at Nicholashayne in Somerset from his record-breaking father Martin at the start of last season, reports the six-year-old to be in “good form” ahead of his upcoming season target.

He said: “Osana is good, there’s not long to go now. Sizing Europe is obviously the one to beat but Osana is in good form and will go straight there. He seems to be versatile in terms of ground and he handles Cheltenham well. We’ve just got to get him there healthy and fit on the day.”



Gaspara, who carried the colours of Martin Pipe when providing David with his first winner at The Festival in the Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle nearly 12 months ago, is set to return to Prestbury Park and Pipe jnr is confident that she can make the frame, despite not winning since that memorable victory.

Pipe continued: “Gaspara will go straight to the David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle and she’s in good form. She hasn’t won this season but she’s been placed in all of the good races. She’s third favourite and looks to have a good each-way chance.

“She was fantastic last year and she’s been very good this year, just four-year-olds struggle a bit in their second season. The mares’ race looks tailor-made for her and she should be thereabouts.”

Grade One Victor Chandler Chase winner Tamarinbleu, who had Twist Magic 12 lengths in arrears in that race, is also in good shape ahead next month’s Festival and holds entries in both the Seasons Holidays Queen Mother Champion Chase and the Ryanair Chase. He proved his aptitude for Cheltenham in December when making all to land the Gold Cup over two miles and five furlongs.

“Tamarinbleu will run in either the Queen Mother Chase or the Ryanair Chase. A decision will be made closer to the time but he’s in good form. They’re both going to be hot races.”

Pipe has yet to make a decision on Ashkazar’s Festival target. Having finished fourth to Alan King’s progressive Franchoek in a Grade One at Chepstow in December, the four-year-old was a good winner of a novices’ hurdle at Sandown at the beginning of the month.

“I’m not sure which race I’ll run Ashkazar in yet. I’ve got to speak to the owner, David Johnson, because I’m not sure if he likes the JCB Triumph Hurdle that much. Ashkazar is in the Anglo Irish Bank Supreme Novices’ Hurdle as well and I expect that we’ll enter him in handicaps too, so he’ll have plenty of options. We’ll see closer to the time but he’s come out of his Sandown race in good form.”

Acambo got the season off to a perfect start, winning a beginners’ chase on his debut over the larger obstacles but had a run over hurdles on his most recent start after taking a fall on his second outing over fences.

“Acambo will hopefully have a run before The Irish Independent Arkle Chase for more experience. He had a run over hurdles for a confidence booster after his fall.”

His other high-profile entries include Grade One Long Walk Hurdle winner Lough Derg, who he confirmed will run in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle, and Grade One King George VI Chase runner-up Our Vic, who will line up in the Ryanair Chase.

Pipe concluded: “Most of them will head straight to Cheltenham - not much will run before The Festival now. Things have been going well this season. I’ve just got to try to keep it up.”

He sent out 134 winners in his debut season and is already on the 78 winner mark (up to the end of Tuesday, February 12) this campaign with over £1.3 million in prize money won.

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