Martin Pipe Hurdle Tips – Another Handicap And Another Irish Success On The Cards

Early Doors (right) comes through to win the 2019 Martin Pipe.

Early Doors (right) comes through to win the 2019 Martin Pipe.

2021 Martin Pipe Hurdle Tips

It’s the final race of the meeting on Gold Cup day and Daniel Overall has looked at the race in his latest ante-post preview.

Martin Pipe Hurdle Overview

The final race of the festival, punters will be hoping to end the week on a high. Last year’s renewal saw the well fancied Column Of Fire fall when holding every chance at the final obstacle (apologies to any of his backers for bringing back those harrowing memories), allowing the mare Indefatigable to spring a 25/1 surprise. A competitive affair for conditional jockey’s, it is often run a fiercely run affair with the ability to stay well often crucial to success.

Long-Term Favourite

Unusually for a handicap, the Martin Pipe has had a clear favourite for the best part of three months in the form of Wide Receiver. A talented horse in bumpers, he made a decent start to life over hurdles, running well against good opposition without getting his head in front on his first three runs. The third of those runs stacks up well, with the winner going on to taste Grade 2 success while the third and fourth have won subsequently.

He got off the mark over obstacles at the fourth attempt when beating a subsequent winner over two-miles in a game success although he did run poorly in a Grade 1 when last seen at the Dublin Racing Festival; his early backers for this race were glad that he didn’t ruin his handicap mark. 

Rated 130 in Ireland, the British handicapper allocated him a mark of 136 which would’ve been high enough to run in each of the last ten renewals, although 136 was the bottom mark for two of the last three renewals.

Owned by Gigginstown, their record in this race is phenomenal. From just twelve runners, they have run the race four times with a further five hitting the frame, while Column of Fire looked sure to enhance that record last year before his fall (again, apologies to his supporters). Purchased for £410,000, Gordon Elliott has noted that he’s probably not at the level to run in Graded novices, but he does look a well handicapped horse and he certainly has an appealing profile for this race. However, it is worth noting that those that are higher in the weights have been performing well in recent renewals, with the previous three winners running off 145, 145 and 144 respectively.

Other Gigginstown Runners

Frontal Assault (20/1) was last seen winning a Grade 3 Novice Hurdle at Navan over three-miles in the style of a really strong stayer. Gordon Elliott did mention the Martin Pipe as a potential target for him and although experience over a staying trip can be a positive, he looks as though he lacks the speed necessary to win a race of this nature.

Ragnar Lodbrok (33/1) made a winning start over hurdles but he has not progressed as may have been hoped. Last seen finishing a distance behind Bob Olinger in the Grade 1 Lawlor’s of Naas, his rating of 128 in Ireland means he may struggle to get in. Similar comments apply to Lieutenant Command although his mark of 133 means he could get a run here. He looked as if he might go close on his handicap debut but he faded tamely in the closing stages. With Noel Meade commenting that “he’s more of chaser than a hurdler”, he’s taken some time to come right and so he may be one for next season.

Fire Attack was a talented bumper horse last term although he has yet to fulfil his potential over hurdles, often being too keen for his own good. He has been highly tried over obstacles thus far, with all four of his starts coming at Listed level and above and there were more encouraging signs on his last start in a first-time hood in what was a slowly run race. He clearly has a fair amount of ability and a strongly run race may help him settle, although he does have entries for the County Hurdle and the Coral Cup. 

Other Irish Runners

Gentleman De Mee won on his debut for Willie Mullins at Naas in February in an ordinary race, but he did it nicely after 460 days off the track. Bought for €280,000 after finishing second in both starts in France, the form of his second run is working out well, with the first and third going on to win other races as well as running well behind the top-class Le Berry.

While his win came over the minimum distance, he is still entered in the Ballymore and he is bred to stay further being a half-brother to the useful staying chaser, As De Mee. It will be interesting to see how he’s assessed by the British handicapper but he is a fascinating contender for the much-respected connections of Mullins and JP. Willie has won this race three times, including with Sir Des Champs in 2011; like Gentleman De Mee, Sir Des Champs only had one run in Ireland (also over two-miles) before winning this at 9/2. With that in mind, he is one to be watched very closely.

Willie Mullins also has Ganapathi (14/1); rated 137 in Ireland, he didn’t appear to stay 2m6f at the Dublin Racing Festival and he looks more likely to head for the Supreme, although connections could be swayed to go down the handicap route depending on how the British handicapper assesses him.

Champagne Gold (16/1) has progressed with each start over hurdles, finishing a close second in a competitive handicap over two-miles at the Dublin Racing Festival. Raised seven pounds to 139 for that run, he has plenty of options including the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and the County Hurdle, which may appeal more at this stage as he didn’t look a strong stayer on his sole attempt at an intermediate trip.

As well as Wide Receiver, Gordon Elliott could also run Eskylane (25/1) who finished fifth in last season’s Champion Bumper. Given a mark of 135 by the British handicapper in early February, he shaped well at the Dublin Racing Festival, staying on well under a patient ride and leaving the impression that he’d benefit from a step up in trip, although it will be touch and go as to whether he will get in. Gabynako ran a similar race when finishing one place behind Eskylane at Leopardstown next time out. Third in a Grade 2 and a Grade 1 earlier in the season, he’s another interesting Irish contender.  

Martin Pipe Hurdle Big-Race Verdict

Wide Receiver is sure to be popular and he is a worthy favourite at this stage, while any other Gigginstown owned runners that line up are entitled to respect given their impressive record in this race. However, Gentleman De Mee is the speculative selection at this stage following his impressive Irish debut, while Willie Mullins was keen to note after the race that there was plenty of improvement left in him. Still entered in the Ballymore, his participation here will depend on how the British handicapper assesses him and NRNB concessions are advised if backing the selection.