Massive 216 Entered for Inaugural Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle 19/02/09
The first running of the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle has drawn an amazing 216 initial entries. The new contest – staged over and extended two and a half miles – will be the penultimate race of The 2009 Festival on Friday, March 13, and has attracted huge interest.
The race celebrates the achievements of 15-time champion trainer Martin Pipe, who enjoyed 34 Festival successes, and his son David has no less than 26 entries in this contest including 2007 Fred Winter Juvenile Novices’ Handicap heroine Gaspara.
Entries are also announced today for The Festival’s 10 other handicaps of which eight have increased numbers on last year.
On the opening day of The Festival, Tuesday, March 10, the two handicaps are the William Hill Trophy Handicap Chase, which has several Grand National contenders among its 93 entries and the Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Steeplechase with 43 entries. The latter’s 19 Irish-trained entries include both the 2007 victor Heads Onthe Ground and the 2008 scorer Garde Champetre, both owned by J P McManus and trained by cross-country expert Enda Bolger, who has won three of the four runnings to date.
Lough Derg must rank as one of the toughest horses in training and the David Pipe-trained nine-year-old is one of 150 entries in the Coral Cup on Wednesday, March 11, while there are 57 contenders for the Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle on the same day.
A joint-record 79 entries have been received for the Pertemps Final on Thursday, March 12, and on the same card there are 98 possibles for the Jewson Novices’ Handicap Chase, including Millenium Royal, who was earmarked for this contest by French handler Francois Doumen following his success at Plumpton on February 9. Also run on Thursday, March 12, are the Festival Plate Handicap Chase, which has attracted 82 entries, and the handicap for amateur riders, the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Handicap Chase, which has 105 contenders including the 2008 winner High Chimes.
In addition to the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle, Friday March 13, also features the Vincent O’Brien County Handicap Hurdle, which has 122 entries and the race which brings The Festival to a close in 2009, the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase which has 52 contenders.
Weights for all handicaps at The Festival will be revealed at the Cheltenham Countdown 2009, which takes place at the racecourse on Wednesday, February 25.
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