Since 2009, Friday’s card has included The Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle, named after the prolific National Hunt trainer who retired in 2006. He was champion trainer fifteen times, achieved thirty four Cheltenham Festival victories and was awarded the CBE for services to racing.
The race is restricted to conditional jump jockeys who have fewer than 75 racing rules wins. Conditionals are permitted to claim a weight allowance of 7lbs until they have 20 wins, 5lbs until they reach 40 wins, and 3lbs up to 75 wins. In addition, those with fewer than five wins are allowed to claim an extra 3lbs when riding for their own stables.
Run as the penultimate race of the fourth day at the Festival, after three hurdles races earlier in the afternoon, this handicap hurdle aims to give potential champion jockeys a chance to showcase their skills.
- The Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle is classified as a Class 2 Handicap Hurdle.
- The race will be contested at a start time of 16:405 on day four of the Cheltenham Festival.
- The race is open to horses aged four years old and above.
- The race is run over 2 miles, 4 furlongs and 110 yards (2m 4 1/2f).
- There are nine flights of hurdles to negotiate.
- The purse is £45,000.
- 5 or 6 years olds have won all 3 races.
- All 3 winners were handicap hurdle winners that season.
- All 3 winners carried over 11st.
- 2 of the 3 winners had previously run in a chase. Last year’s winner Sir Des Champs did not, but he has won three chases since.
Betting on the Martin Pipe Conditionals
This race often includes horses that showed promise in the Coral Cup the previous year. For example Pause and Clause, placed third in the 2009 Coral Cup, was the 2010 Martin Pipe Hurdle winner. Although it is impossible to determine trends for such a new handicap hurdle, any horses with course form, winners last time out, and Irish-trained hopefuls should be seen as serious contenders.
Ground conditions at this late stage of the Festival can be unpredictable and, especially after adverse weather, may greatly influence the race outcome.
Trainer David Pipe continues his challenge for the trophy in this fourth year of the event. He well remembers the disappointment over his horse Big Eared Fran, placed third in the 2009 race. It started as the 7/2 race favourite but the victor that year was Andytown, trained by Nicky Henderson. The Irish trainer Willie Mullins supplied the winner, Sir Des Champs, in 2011.