MARTIN PIPE CONDITIONAL JOCKEYS’ HANDICAP HURDLE INFO
Date: Friday (16:50), March 17, 2023
Type: National Hunt Hurdle Race
Distance: 2 Miles 4½ Furlongs
Finishing off the entire Cheltenham Festival on Friday March 17th will be the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle, a two-and-a-half-mile race worth over £70,000.
During the event there are nine hurdles to be taken with all horses ridden by the younger jockeys, giving them one last shot at some Festival glory with the Martin Pipe Hurdle 2022 being run at 4.50PM on the final day.
This is a new Cheltenham Festival event, one that has only been on the calendar since 2009 when Nicky Henderson’s Andytown had the distinction of being the first ever winner of the race, but despite being still in its relative infancy the Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle is already a favourite with horsemen and punters alike, the latter seeing the race as one final chance to either supplement their winnings or get out of trouble for the week.
The event was inaugurated to honour the great trainer Martin Pipe who oversaw 34 Cheltenham Festival victories as a handler and whose son David will be well represented by runners this year.
Given that this is a handicap run over a popular distance, many runners who could be aimed at this event will have other options over the course of the four-day festival.
With that in mind it’s almost impossible to know who will be lining up on the big day, but three major bookmakers at the time of writing have developed markets for the race and they mostly agree on the main candidates, giving us a chance to analyse them and pick out a good value early ante post bet.
The difficulty for us here is not only forming an opinion on what sort of level each of these runners should be reaching come March 13th, but also attempting to second guess roughly what rating they may have by then and therefore what weights they’ll carry relative to each other.
Many of the British runners may well be held back having raced in late-December or early-January to look after their handicap marks and that can look good on paper, while the Irish-trained contenders could well go to the Dublin Racing Festival meaning winners will be hiked in the weights but be much more race-fit.
Given that jockeys don’t always stay as conditionals for very long, it’s perhaps no surprise that all eleven runnings of this race have been won by different riders.
The most successful trainer in the Martin Pipe on the other hand is Willie Mullins, the crack handler having taken three of these already.
Paul Nicholls and Gordon Elliot have trained two winners each, while old master Nicky Henderson and new kid on the block Joseph O’Brien each have one and all of the aforementioned trainers will no doubt put forward something with a chance in this year’s event.
Aside from the names of the actual horsemen of course, we can glean something from past Martin Pipe Hurdle winners with these areas being of particular interest:
We have a mixed bag here considering five of the last 10 winners have had three or fewer runs that season, while others had up to 5 or in one case even seven outings. There’s no clear need to have had a light season then, but in terms of form it seems they need to be in good nick with 8 of the last 10 winners having been placed last time out.
With the exception of Blow By Blow, all of our Martin Pipe winners have been aged either 5 or 6 and that very much seems to be the sweet spot for these handicap hurdlers, nearly all of which will most likely be on the upgrade heading into the Festival.
Just the one favourite has won this in the last ten years, although it’s worth mentioning that last year’s 1-2 were second-favourite and market leader respectively. Should it be the case that the race reverts to type however, then keep in mind that the average SP of Martin Pipe winners in this timeframe is almost 12/1, and that winners have come from the 9/2 to 20/1 bracket although the majority are between 11/1 and 16/1.
While most of the field may well be of the requisite age, we may at least have the chance to take out a few based on their years, while rank outsiders don’t seem to get too far despite some winners going off at tasty prices. A horse under 16/1 then, aged 5-6 and in great form (first 3 last time out and placed other times this season) should be given credence.
While remembering to bet responsibly it is advised that you start now to keep an eye out for some attractive bookmaker offers surrounding the Cheltenham Festival, especially if you’ll be opening a new account.
Last year was the highlight thus far in terms of promotional deals, with online firms falling over themselves to get our custom during the busiest betting week of the year and it’s hoped that their may well be a repeat of some of the bonuses and offers we loved.
2020’s deals including Coral’s Double Your Winnings on the First Race at Cheltenham (up to £25), Betway Sports’ £30 in Free Bets and the Bet £10 Get £40 Cheltenham Special Sign Up deal from Betfred which we hope returns in one guise or another.
Much will change between now and March 18th as more odds are quoted for the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle 2022, at the moment just a few firms offering us ante post prices to play around with although with one of our selections being available at 25/1, we at least have something to work with.
Final entries for this race will be revealed one Wednesday March 16th, two days before the race as is standard with Cheltenham Festival events, and at that point we’ll know our each-way terms, we can take advantage of ‘best odds guaranteed’ and we will know the ground conditions and weights which can allow us to make a more informed final selection.
There have only ever been eleven renewals of this event with Nicky Henderson’s Andytown the first to take it just before these ten:
When most of the Cheltenham millions had been exchanged and most of the beer had been drunk (or spilled), it was time for the closing race of the 2019 Festival as the runners lined-up for the Martin Pipe Conditional Hurdle, headed by 7/2 favourite Dallas Des Pictons.
It was a close call at the top of the market however with Joseph O’Brien’s Early Doors coming in for support at 5/1 for popular owner JP McManus, and it was he who under Jonjo O’Neill Jr forged ahead on the run-in after the final flight to score and provide plenty of punters with one last win.