David Pipe says Adagio is his best festival chance as he reveals colic issue
David Pipe nominated Adagio as his best hope for Cheltenham on Thursday – but revealed the four-year-old had suffered a bout of colic since he last raced.
The trainer still has enormous faith in the Grade 1 winner, who is a best-priced 14-1 for the JCB Triumph Hurdle.
But he said: "After his last run he had a bit of colic, which meant he missed a week. But he's had a good preparation since and he's in great form.
"Horses get colic all the time, mild bouts, and they get over it without us even knowing about it. He was just a bit quiet in himself, he's quite a loud, outgoing horse, a real character who loves his food and he was off games for a week.
"It's always a concern at the time but since then everything has gone well. He'll have an away day somewhere before Cheltenham and we're very much looking forward to it."
Adagio gained his third win in four starts over jumps when landing the Coral Finale Juvenile Hurdle at Chepstow in January.
"It looks an ultra-competitive Triumph Hurdle but our fellow hasn't done much wrong," Pipe said. "He's improving with every run.
"The great thing for me is that I don't think it really matters what the ground is. He's got Cheltenham form, he jumps, he travels. Is he good enough? We'll find out at Cheltenham."
Kim Bailey singled out Ryanair Chase contender Imperial Aura as the main hope among what he reckons is his best team for the festival.
The eight-year-old has done "extensive schooling" since unseating his rider at Kempton in January.
And the trainer, who did the Gold Cup/Champion Hurdle double with Master Oats and Alderbrook in 1995, said: "He's a good jumper and something took his eye off the fence at Kempton. I'm delighted with the way he's progressing.
"He didn't go to Ascot the other day and I hope he's going to Cheltenham as a fresh horse. I think it's a very competitive race but we go there with a very strong chance."
Bailey, who will not decide until late next week whether to run Ladbrokes Trophy casualty Vinndication in the Paddy Power Stayers' Hurdle or Gold Cup, is hoping for soft ground for Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase hope First Flow.
"He probably just goes through it better than everybody else," the trainer said. "David Bass always says that he's a horse that makes soft ground feel like good ground for every other horse."
Cheltenham clerk of the course Simon Claisse forecast the meeting will start on a slightly sounder surface and said: "I have a good sense that we're going to start on good to soft and something in places, whether it's good in places or soft in places.
"We've had unprecedented rainfall over the winter and the course was flooded three times across 24 or 25 days, which is something I've never seen here in 20 years. But things are improving. We've had eight drying days.
"There's a spell of rain next week but beyond next Wednesday and Thursday it turns slightly cooler and looks like being a dry weekend before the festival."
'He seems quite progressive'
After the weights were unveiled for the Cheltenham Festival handicaps, hurdles handicapper Andrew Mealor singled out two horses who gave him particular problems . . .
"He's trained by Sophie Leech but has never actually run in Britain. He's only a five-year-old and seems quite progressive, he's done well in France over the winter and has won a Listed handicap and been runner-up in another. He's rated the equivalent of 150 in France but that seemed a little high judged on my reading of his form so he's in on 146 in the County. That was difficult because you've never seen him run."
He was upsides Teahupoo at Fairyhouse in January when he fell. I thought he was going to win but there wasn't much in it. Teahupoo won a Grade 3 impressively a couple of weeks ago and has been given a mark of 141, whereas Youmdor went to the Dublin Racing Festival and ran very poorly. Where to go with him? I had a chat with the Irish handicapper and we both felt the fairest thing was to have him at the same 141, assessing a faller is difficult."
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