Last year’s race
- Winner: Blow By Blow
- Jockey: D Meyler
- Trainer: G Elliott
- Owner: Gigginstown House Stud
- Age: 7 Weight: 11st 10lb
- Starting Price: 11/1
- Season Form Figures: : 32161
- Previous Best: 1st - Michael Purcell Memorial Novice Hurdle (Grade 3), Thurles (Feb 2017)
This will be the 11th running of the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle, or The Boys’ Race as you might hear trainers regularly like to call it, or “Dad’s Race” in David Pipe’s case and the six winners since it was upgraded to a 0-145 handicap. The last seven winners were all officially rated 138+ heading into the contest. In fact, Blow By Blow won off top weight last season.
Trends need more time to bed in but it is certainly of interest that all ten winners were first or second-season hurdlers and aged five or six. In fact, of the 40 horses to pay a win or place dividend, only four were not in their first or second season over timber.
Of the 40 horses to pay a win or place dividend, only four were not in their first or second season over timber.
The last two winners were novices representing Gordon Elliott and Gigginstown, hence why their novice, Dallas Des Pictons, is likely to be very well fancied this season. Gigginstown have owned four of the ten winners and had four other placed horses so also watch out for their entries. Part reason why they fare so well is they produce stayers and this is a handicap where horses moving down in trip fare better than those upped in distance given how stern a stamina test is at the trip. In an Irish-dominated race last season where they supplied the 1-2-3-4 (in particular take note of their handicap debutants), Gordon Elliott saddled the winner and fourth a year on from saddling the winner and third. A former amateur rider for Martin Pipe, this is a special race for him.
This handicap has to be close to the top of Pond House’s hit list at the start of each season but it has just hasn’t happened for them so far with the best two horses they have aimed at the race, Dynaste and Grand Crus, not getting in for being officially rated too high or too low at the time to get a run. So far just one of Pipe’s 18 runners has hit the frame.
It has been a different story for Willie Mullins however who has won it with class acts such as Sir Des Champs, Don Poli and Killultagh Vic. Paul Nicholls won with Salubrious six years ago and then supplied the third, fourth and sixth from his only three runners the following year. He was also back in the winner’s enclosure three years ago with Ibis du Rheu so it’s clearly a race that he has got to grips with.
At a glance summary
- Trained by Willie Mullins, Paul Nicholls and Gordon Elliott
- Owned by Gigginstown House Stud
- Horses moving down in distance
- More than two seasons over hurdles
- Officially rated lower than 139
- Trained by David Pipe
- Horses taking a step up in trip