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Martin Pipe

Martin Pipe (born 29 May 1945) was a racehorse trainer until his retirement in April 2006.

The son of a West-Country bookmaker, Pipe was an amateur jockey before turning his attention to training in 1974 at Nicholashayne, Devon, near Wellington, England.

Early career

Pipe's initial efforts were conspicuously unsuccessful, his first winner coming with Hit Parade in a selling hurdle at Taunton in May 1975 under Lenny Lungo.

It would be another 14 seasons before he would be crowned champion trainer for the first time. The first clue to the upward trajectory that his career would subsequently take came with the 66/1 victory of Baron Blakeney over red-hot favourite Broadsword in the 1981 Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham.

Highlights

Pipe went on to be Champion Trainer 15 times with successive stable jockeys Peter Scudamore, Richard Dunwoody, David Bridgwater and Tony McCoy.

On eight occasions he trained over 200 winners in one season, with a record tally of 243 in 1999-2000 and an amazing lifetime tally of 4183 European winners. He saddled a total of 34 winners at the Cheltenham Festival, including two Champion Hurdles with Granville Again in 1993 and novice Make A Stand in 1997, though victory in the Cheltenham Gold Cup eluded him (Rushing Wild came second in 1993). He also won the Grand National in 1994 with Miinnehoma for owner Freddie Starr.

Success was not confined to National Hunt racing either, with 256 victories on the Flat, including six at Royal Ascot.

Martin Pipe announced his retirement on grounds of ill-health on 29 April 2006, handing over the reins to son, David Pipe.

Pipe remains within the game as an owner and enjoyed a Cheltenham success with Gaspara in 2007. In 2009 Pipe was honoured with the creation of a new race at the Cheltenham Festival named after him, the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle.

Controversy

A notoriously quiet and distant man, Pipe's science-based approach to training initially met with much scepticism and suspicion from both inside and outside of the racing community. This was perhaps most notably demonstrated when his operation was targeted as part of an expose by investigative journalist, Roger Cook.

Nevertheless, Pipe's methodology has subsequently been widely copied and is considered as transforming the face of National Hunt Racing in Britain.[citation needed]

Pipe was also implicated in a betting scandal in 2004 at Exeter after a spectacular gamble in a National Hunt Flat race was landed by There Is No Doubt. The horse was trained by the late Helen Bridges and backed from 28-1 into 5-2 favourite.

However, it subsequently emerged that the horse had been known by the name of Le Saadien before Pipe sold him to Bridges just a few weeks before the run, and it was alleged that a number of persons, including Pipe's chief patron, David Johnson had taken part in the betting coup. The Jockey Club interviewed all concerned but found that no rule had been broken.



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