Big Occasion puts in a giant leap on his way to Midlands National gloryPICTURE: Steve Davies
Pipe shows he’s the man for the Big Occasion
Report: Uttoxeter, Saturday
Betfred Midlands Grand National (Listed Handicap Chase) 4m1½f, 5yo+
HE MAY have had no winners at Cheltenham but the Midlands Grand National is home from home for David Pipe as the master of Pond House recorded his third win in a row in the race with 6-1 shot Big Occasion.
The blinkered six-year-old, who'd never won a race before over fences, gave amateur Mikey Ennis the biggest success of his career as the pair saw off the game Rebeccas Choice with One In A Milan in third.
It hadn't been the best festival for the yard this week with hotpots Ballynagour and Dynaste getting beaten. This was just the tonic, though, as Big Occasion cruised into the lead and kept galloping to the line.
Pipe said of his winner: "He wasn't getting home in his races earlier in the season so we changed a few things in his training. He's got confidence in his jumping and he travelled well. It was just a matter of whether he stayed or not, and he did."
A strong pace had been set in the race by 3-1 favourite Chac Du Cadran, Carruthers and last year's winner Master Overseer. One by one the leaders cracked, and it was a brave effort by the second home Rebeccas Choice to try and win the race from there.
However, it was evident he was a sitting duck as Big Occasion joined in going to three out. Ennis took it up on his mount from there and it was only the last two fences that were going to cause a problem for this stout stayer and he took the obstacles in his stride.
Scotsman Mikey Ennis was thrilled with the result, saying: "That's by far my biggest winner. I started on the Scottish point-to-point circuit and have been with the Pipes for two years now. That was my 11th win under rules and I'll consider turning professional now.
"He travelled really well for me but I didn't want to get there too soon. It can't be very often that a horse breaks his maiden over fences by winning the Midlands National."