Familiar faces renew festival rivalry as Pipe ace bids for repeat
Ultima Handicap Chase | 3m1f | Grade 3 | 5yo+ | ITV/RUK
It is a case of friends reunited in the first handicap chase of the festival, with the first three home from last year renewing rivalry.
Un Temps Pour Tout was the winner 12 months ago and, although 7lb higher in the handicap this time, his season appears to have been geared towards a repeat bid.
Last year’s runner-up Holywell won this race in 2014 and was runner-up in the Gold Cup in between. After a bleak winter, he is 5lb lower in the handicap than last year and so is 12lb better off with Un Temps Pour Tout for a seven-length defeat.
The Young Master, third in 2016, is one of three in the race for Neil Mulholland, who also saddles 2015 winner The Druids Nephew and last-time-out scorer Pilgrims Bay.
What they say
David Pipe, trainer of Un Temps Pour Tout
He was good in this race a year ago, but he's 7lb higher now and has top weight, which is not ideal. We fancied him for the Hennessy but he didn't perform to his best. He's run over hurdles since to give him a change. He's a little bit in and out but you could argue he's better on better ground these days. We are hopeful.
Gordon Elliott, trainer of Noble Endeavor and Clarcam
Noble Endeavor has run well at the meeting in the past, finishing second in the Martin Pipe two years ago and falling at the second-last when travelling well in the four-miler last year. He's had a break since winning the Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown after Christmas and we're very happy with him. Clarcam has loads of experience and takes his chance.
Colin Tizzard, trainer of Theatre Guide and Viconte Du Noyer
Theatre Guide is a big, strong horse so can carry the weight. He's won at Cheltenham this year and is probably in as good as form as he's ever been. Viconte Du Noyer has also won at Cheltenham this year over this trip and we've saved him since Christmas to bring him back fresh. They've both got chances.
Alan King, trainer of Annacotty and Label Des Obeaux
Annacotty has been disappointing this season but the handicapper does not relent, he's still on a mark of 151 and it's not easy for him. Label Des Obeaux is progressing well, winning his last two races, and his confidence is high. He's creeping up the weights but he was a graded winner over hurdles and has a bit of quality about him. This will be a very different ball game after a couple of wins in small fields but I'm glad to see that it looks as though he'll get the cut in the ground he enjoys.
Neil Mulholland, trainer of The Young Master, The Druids Nephew and Pilgrims Bay
The Young Master is just 1lb higher in the handicap than when third last year and he’s in good form, so hopefully he can run like he did last year. The Druids Nephew is off the same mark as when he won it two years ago and is in great order, while Pilgrims Bay is off a nice weight. I wouldn’t put them in any order – I just hope they can all run respectably.
Jonjo O’Neill, trainer of Holywell and Go Conquer
Hopefully we see the good side of Holywell but we’ve seen nothing all season. He’s flying at home, loves Cheltenham and Richie McLernon rides him well but it’s down to him on the day. We’re hopeful with Go Conquer. We’re just not sure if we should be going two and a half or three miles.
Paul Nicholls, trainer of Ibis Du Rheu and Caid Du Berlais
Ibis Du Rheu has run three satisfactory races off his mark on ground probably too soft for him. Better ground should suit him and and he won at the festival last year, so hopefully he should go well. Caid Du Berlais has slipped down the handicap and Stan [Sheppard] takes off a handy 5lb. He won on him over hurdles earlier this season and the more it dries for him the better. He could run really well.
Noel Meade, trainer of Measureofmydreams
He ran poorly last time but he's started to sparkle in the last couple of weeks and he did run very well when third in the National Hunt Chase a year ago. I think he has an each-way chance.
Evan Williams, trainer of Buywise
I’m lost. I put a visor on him at Cheltenham in December and made a complete mess of the horse – it literally fried his brain. We ran him in a very moderate race at Exeter last time and it was only running for home that he started to half enjoy it. I was going to run in the Kim Muir but we had an amateur or two school him and it was a disaster and by process of elimination we’re in this race. Our horses are seriously well but I’ve no confidence going there.
Sean Bowen, rider of Henri Parry Morgan
He was dropped 6lb for his last run and if he can jump round he’d have a right squeak. Dad says he’s been coming to himself since his last run and he’s sneaked in on a nice weight.
Tom George, trainer of Singlefarmpayment and A Good Skin
It was no fault of Singlefarmpayment that he was brought down last time but it doesn’t seem to have left a mark. He won his novice chase round Cheltenham and, although he’s stepping up against experienced handicappers, he’s got a nice weight and is progressive. It will be the first time for a while A Good Skin is going to be on his sort of ground. He was second in the Kim Muir last season off 4lb higher and it’s his time of year.
Sue Smith, trainer of Vintage Clouds
He’s off a nice weight but we don’t want it to dry out too much. He’s in good shape.