The first two days of Cheltenham’s Open Meeting had not gone well for Pipe, with just two placed horses from his 10 runners. Whilst he went into the final day with reasonable hopes of getting off the mark, Home Run, his runner in the opener, would not have been top of his list, as odds of 40/1 showed. Anyone brave enough o have backed him would have had their hearts racing as after the final hurdle the horse veered away to the left, crossed most of the way to the stands rain before Kieron Edgar was able to straighten him up.
For good measure, Pipe had Western Warhorse, the second home, as well. A win for The Liquidator in the next race wasn’t a great surprise, and a runner in each of the six races yesterday showed Pipe had the intent of doing as well as his father used to at this meeting. Once the Greatwood Hurdle was over, and Dell’Arca had bagged one of the major handicaps of the season on his first run in England, Pipe had all but sealed his place as the leading trainer at the meeting. Just to confirm that, Red Sherlock took the bumper that closed events at Cheltenham.
Felix Yonger showed that he has made a decent progression from hurdles to fences with a second novice success, good enough to see him introduced into the betting for the Arkle. It was a performance that pleased his trainer, who said, “That looked impressive to me. Ruby (Walsh) said he even idled in front so I would think there’s much more in the locker. We might wait now until Christmas. That was a tough race and they went a fair lick.”
Then it was time for Hurricane Fly, and half an hour later City Slicker romped home an easy winner of the handicap hurdle. By now, Mullins had his four winners in the bag, and jockey Ruby Walsh had gone one better, as he’d ridden the first five winners home. Pat Fahy’s Morning Assembly was the cuckoo in the nest. Trainer and jockey had clearly had enough by then, as neither was involved in the last two races, so it was home after a good day’s work for both.