Val holds Pipe dreams
PUBLISHED: 12:30 03 January 2002 | UPDATED: 11:06 03 March 2010
HORSE RACING: Martin Pipe's Valiramix, rated one of the biggest dangers to Istabraq in the Smurfit Champion Hurdle, is 6-1 favourite with the sponsors to land the Tote Gold Trophy at Newbury next month.
MARTIN Pipe's Valiramix, rated one of the biggest dangers to Istabraq in the Smurfit Champion Hurdle, is 6-1 favourite with the sponsors to land the Tote Gold Trophy at Newbury next month.
But Pipe's charge would have to defy a burden of 12st in the race and his possible participation will hold the key to the chances of many of his rivals.
If Valiramix or stablemate Magnus (allotted 11-13) were to stand their ground for the February 9 contest, it would lead to many of their rivals being forced to race from out of the handicap proper.
After the Pipe-trained pair, there is a yawning gap back to Hors La Loi III (11-2), Mr Cool (10-13) and Brother Joe (10-13).
Nicky Henderson's desire to increase his recent monopoly of the Tote Gold Trophy was made clear when it was revealed that he is responsible for six of the 52 horses in the £110,000 prize.
Three of his entries are among the first six in the Tote's betting.
Henderson has won the race for three of the last four years, striking in 1998 and 1999 with Sharpical and Geos respectively, and again last year with Landing Light.
All three winners were ridden by stable jockey Mick Fitzgerald.
One of Henderson's sextet is 1999 Triumph Hurdle runner-up, Regal Exit, who has been allotted 9-11, a weight which his trainer described as "very interesting".
"I would have to say that I think it is a very big possibility he will run although I would like to get a run into him first,' Henderson said. "I have had him entered up twice but the weather keeps getting the better of us.
"He had a leg after Punchestown the season before last and we have had to be very patient with him.
"But he is coming along nicely, although we have been a bit held up by the weather. I would just like to get some work into him on the grass.'
Regal Exit is the Tote's 8-1 second-favourite, behind Valiramix, for the contest.
Tysou (10-2) is set to take the same route as Landing Light into the race, and is being aimed at the Lanzarote Hurdle at Kempton later this month before a final decision is taken over Newbury.
Lady Boston (9-7) is another possibility for the big race.
"She is a very nice mare and she is well although she hasn't run for us yet, she will appear quite shortly,' Henderson added. "At this stage it's early days but you'd have to think that the weights will go up so we'll look at the race nearer to the time. I would think at least two or three will run.
"It's just a nice race that comes at the right time of the season for us.'
Henderson's other possible representatives are Dark Shell (9-4), Got One Too (9-6) and Deoch An Dorais (8-6).