Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle Date is March, 13, 2020
Type: National Hunt Hurdle Race (2 miles 4½ furlongs)
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Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle 2020 Preview & Tips
Preview By Frank Monkhouse
Former professional boxer who is now a content writer specialising in sports and betting. Has worked for some of the biggest names in the industry, including Coral and Betfair covering all manner of sports, from boxing and football to horse racing. A student of the formbook, he loved stats, trends, numbers and how they can guide punters towards a winner.
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 2020 being run at 5.30PM 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.
Antepost Key Runners & Favourites
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.
Despite these difficulties we do like the look of early favourtie Ilikedwayurthinkin of Gavin Cromwell’s yard. Having already had nine hurdle races he’s been round the block once or twice, but he is still on the improve having been winning during the summer and should come on again for this step up in trip.
Having had a break between August and December he came back with an underwhelming run at Fairyhouse before staying on eye-catchingly at Leopardstown over two miles three weeks or so later. He may well race again before Cheltenham and that has been taken into consideration, in fact should he fail to win his rating may even fall and that would make him very interesting indeed in these race conditions.
When analysing the early contenders, it was a surprise for us to see that the other three we separated from the pack were all trained by one man, albeit a great man in the shape of Nicky Henderson.
Should she make a successful return from injury having last run in the Coral Cup at last year’s event, Apple’s Shakira could be ideal for this race. The six-year-old mare, like Ilikedwayurthinking owned by JP McManus, was a good sixth that day and she also has strong Grade 1 form. There’s no doubt we haven’t seen the best of her yet and so if she’s fit enough for the Martin Pipe, she’d enter calculations for sure.
Dame De Compagnie
The second Henderson candidate is yet another owned by McManus who himself knows exactly what it takes to win around Cheltenham, and that is seven-year-old mare Dame De Compagnie. This is a horse who in December comfortably took care of Indefatigable in a course and distance mares’ handicap hurdle, that mare of course having gone on since to be a strong 11/10 favourite for a Listed event at Sandown.
Her profile shows her up to be a fairly sharp improver and so we can expect another jump in ability at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival, something that if it happens would leave her very likely to be in the money off her current mark of 140 and that’s too big a factor to ignore.
The Cashel Man
The last one for our shortlist and the third to represent Nicky Henderson is popular eight-year-old gelding and double hurdle winner The Cashel Man. Rated as high as 92 when trained on the flat by David Simcock, there’s clearly more ability in this horse than his current handicap mark of 147 over timber would suggest.
His form in running second to leading novice Thyme Hill in the Grade 1 Challow Hurdle obviously makes him a contender, the only doubts created by that run being the fact then when putting in such a hard race to keep up with a top class horse he may not be in the very best shape immediately afterwards, while the high-profile showing won’t have done his handicap mark much good either meaning he may not be the best handicapped horse in the race on paper.
Martin Pipe Hurdle Stats & Trends
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:
This Season’s Form
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.
Martin Pipe Hurdle Tips
At 20/1 and 33/1 respectively, The Cashel Man and Apple’s Shakira remain of some interest but with some doubts surrounding them it may be better to concentrate on the other two for now.
The fact that the potential differences in preparation overseen by British and Irish trainers could leave us scratching our heads means it’s a good thing that the two we like most, DAME DE COMPAGNIE and ILIKEDWAYURTHINKING, each come from different sides of the Irish Sea and so we’ll take a chance on both of them to small stakes.
Ilikedwayurthinking is the current favourite at a best-priced 16/1 which gives just us a little leeway, but perhaps an even better each-way shout is the fast-improving mare Dame De Compagnie at 25/1 and it is hoped that she won’t be left somewhat undercooked before the big day.
Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle Ante Post Bets: DAME DE COMPAGNIE & ILIKEDWAYURTHINKING
Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle Offers
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.
2019’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.
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Martin Pipe Hurdle Betting Guide
Much will change between now and March 13th as more odds are quoted for the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle 2020, 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 11th, 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.
Past Martin Pipe Hurdle Winners
There have only ever been eleven renewals of this event with Nicky Henderson’s Andytown the first to take it just before these ten:
|2019||Early Doors||52||6||5/1||Jonjo O’Neill Jr||Joseph O’Brien|
|2018||Blow By Blow||32161||7||11/1||Donagh Meyler||Gordon Elliott|
|2017||Champagne Classic||2123213||6||12/1||JJ Slevin||Gordon Elliott|
|2016||Ibis du Rheu||235||5||14/1||Jack Sherwood||Paul Nicholls|
|2015||Killultagh Vic||123||6||7/1||Luke Dempsey||Willie Mullins|
|2014||Don Poli||211||5||12/1||Mikey Fogarty||Willie Mullins|
What Happened in 2019?
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.