Pipe bidding to take it to the Max in Imperial Cup

David Pipe

David Pipe: trainer fields Max Do Brazil

 PICTURE:Martin Lynch (racingpost.com/photos) 

 By Bruce Jackson 8:27AM 11 MAR 2017 

3.00 Sandown

Matchbook Imperial Cup Handicap Hurdle

THE Pipe name has long been entwined with this race as Pond House has produced nine winners, three of whom went on to collect the bonus offered by previous sponsors for winning at the Cheltenham Festival.

New sponsors Matchbook have resurrected the £50,000 bonus and David Pipe, with three previous winners including the last bonus winner Gaspara in 2007, has Coral Cup and Martin Pipe-entered Max Do Brazil bidding to add his name to family fortunes.

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The other four in contention for the bonus are Fixe Le Kap, Kayf Blanco, Bigmartre and William H Bonney, although Fixe Le Kap is unlikely to go to Cheltenham, where the ground is drying, as he wants softer conditions.

Weighty matters
No winner has carried 11st or more in the last ten runnings but this year is notable for the fewest contenders carrying less than 11st (just four). Statistically there have been far more runners under 11st – notably last year when only Rayvin Black (11st 9lb) carried more than 10st 13lb.

Claimers shine
Twice in the last four years conditionals have starred, with Ryan Hatch and Killian Moore fighting out last year’s finish and in 2014 Nathan Adams put a 10lb claim to good use on First Avenue, with Kieron Edgar (7lb) second.

What they say
Alan King, trainer of William H Bonney
We took a gamble running in the Betfair just two weeks after he won so well at Cheltenham. The race came too soon but he’s had four weeks to freshen up and seems back in good form. He’s definitely better than he looked at Newbury where he travelled well to the third last and then beat a retreat so we are looking to get back on track in what looks an open race.

Harry Whittington, trainer of Bigmartre
You can draw a line through his last run as the horses weren’t right and we shut down after that. We haven’t had a runner for three and a half weeks but we think we have got over the viral challenge and the horses are fresher. The race has cut up and he should handle the ground, so we are looking forward to it.

Kerry Lee, trainer of Gassin Golf
I’m very happy with him. We’ve taken the blinkers off after he was unlucky last time and we’re taking 7lb off so it’s all systems go to hopefully be third time lucky after finishing second and third in the race.

Ian Williams, trainer of London Prize
He was in the process of running a big race when falling at Musselburgh last time over hurdles. There’s a concern with coping with sticky ground but he is nicely weighted and has been quite reliable this winter.

Mark Usher, trainer of Spice Fair
He’s in the form of his life and loves Sandown. The race has cut up and he’ll run a solid race. He ran well in the race last year off a higher mark and on bottomless ground which he relishes. If the ground dries out that is a bit of a negative as the trip is sharp enough for him but nothing will be finishing as well up the hill.

David Pipe, trainer of Max Do Brazil
He had the entry because it was soft, heavy ground but it’s drying out which is not ideal. He wants a bit further but it’s a valuable race that has cut up a bit. We’ve cauterised his palate since he stopped quickly at Cheltenham and put a tongue-tie on.

Chris Gordon, trainer of Disputed
The ground was too deep for even him at Lingfield on Monday but he still ran a nice race to be leading two out. He’s hard to win with but the track will suit him and as long as they go a strong gallop he would have a chance.

Kevin Frost, trainer of Chieftain’s Choice
He’s in great form and it looks a winnable race. After his last win at the track Tom [Bellamy] thought he would be better off in a better race carrying less weight so we are giving it a go. He does travel so well in his races and he is still well handicapped on his old form.

Gary Moore, trainer of Darebin and Not Another Muddle
Both have chances. I like Not Another Muddle a lot – he’s inexperienced for this race but I don’t think he’s too badly treated. Darebin is in good form at home but it will depend which Darebin turns up.

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