No sign of compliant Martin Pipe even after all these years
Perhaps that’s to be expected, given the character involved.
Of all the heavyweight trainers of the past 50 years, Martin Pipe has always been a southpaw.
Wired just a little differently, with no hint of flim or flam, Pipe was quirky double-squiggle. Is still.
Gone are the days of riding an undersized bike around your stable. There are also not too many table tennis champions as assistant coaches.
I hope one day a university will dig it up and put it back together. Seeing all the bones put together…that would be fantastic!
Yet Pipe still has the ability to misguide and blindside you, like he did when he announced he was retiring the morning Paul Nicholls would win his first Coaches Championship at the end. of the 2005-06 season.
Towards the end of a fascinating reflection on the Miinnehoma belonging to Freddie Starr, the only winner of the Pipe Grand National, he tells you how his brain works.
“Miinnehoma lived to be 29 and is buried on our farm,” Pipe said. “And hopefully someday a university will dig it up and put it back together. To see all the bones put together…that would be fantastic!
Most mortals would settle for a statue.
Pipe has always been a revolutionary and controversial figure. He tore through the record books with a cruelty that aroused the jealousy of many quarters.
He introduced training innovations such as blood testing, meticulous record keeping – which allowed him to meticulously record the health of his horses – and interval training, setting the pattern for training regimens modern.
He made three champion jockeys – Peter Scudamore, Richard Dunwoody and AP McCoy – and another potential champion, David Bridgwater, left because he couldn’t handle the demands placed on him.
Pipe, the son of a bookmaker, dominated National Hunt racing from the late 1980s until his retirement for health reasons.
Yet few people could compete with him and survive too long.
The best example was Dunwoody. He and Pipe never really got along. It was a business affair. Both champions, they made terribly uncomfortable bedfellows.
In the early 1990s, both were at the height of their powers. The ultra-serious jockey and the unorthodox trainer were each, in their own way, bothered in their search for the next winner.
Yet while their mutual quest to find advantage was so neat that any relationship they had ended up dying, there is one thing they both agree on – Miinnehoma gave them a moment to cherish.
Miinnehoma had been sent to Pipe by Starr, as an unbroken three-year-old from Doncaster Sales and he was notoriously picky.
“Freddie sent it to me and one of the first things he said was he wanted to win the Grand National. Those were his instructions,” Pipe said.
“I told him, ‘wait a minute, he has to jump a fence first’. He had only gained a bumper and hadn’t even seen an obstacle.
“He was very difficult to drive because he was very, very playful. He had to go in the sand ring. Sometimes he would get in there and knock you down.
“There was never any harm in him, he was really silent as a lamb, once you got on him…and once you stayed on him!”
“It was just at the start of every season he played. He was very playful.”
He also had the guts and class to match his fiery character.
Under the genius of the Maestro of Pond House, Miinnehoma became a top-class chaser, who justified patronage in the SunAlliance Chase (now Brown Advisory) in record time under Scudamore, and finished third in the Welsh National.
“I don’t think people realized how good he was,” Pipe said. “He won the Philip Cornes Hurdle at Newbury over three miles, beating Remittance Man, won the SunAlliance Chase, beating Bradbury Star, then he was second in the Rehearsal Chase at Chepstow, second to Captain Dibble at Ascot and third at Run For Free as a Welsh national.
Yet on April 9, 1994, injuries and age had apparently caught up with him – certainly in the minds of the betting public – when he arrived at Aintree aged 11.
“He had a pelvic problem,” Pipe recalled.
Arrested behind Sibton Abbey in Cheltenham in January 1993, he did not reappear until March the following year.
“We have a back team and a pelvic team on him, including Mary Bromiley, who did wonders – she was also the one who fixed Carvill’s Hill,” Pipe added.
“Our vets were very good, then he won for the first time at Newbury over two and a half miles, beating Forest Sun, and he went to the Gold Cup and he finished seventh there (for The Fellow), with Adrian Maguire on board. .
“I thought he was running well, actually. He ran a half-decent run and then he went to the National.
Dunwoody said: “It was only my second time riding it. I had won a handicap at Newbury with him.
“He provided me with one of my biggest highlights, because his success was so unexpected.”
Pipe laughed and added, “I don’t know what Richard was expecting, but we loved him.
“Chester Barnes (assistant coach and former table tennis champion) tipped him on the tipping line (‘Pipeline’) and put him to sleep at 16-1. We loved him. He stayed all the day.
Other than a minor crash, the race went well for Dunwoody.
“At Becher, the second time, he pecked badly on landing. But other than that, I couldn’t fathom how far he traveled,” he said.
“Moorcroft Boy jumped last in the lead but stopped within a few strides. He had hit the wall and if anything, we had gotten there too soon.
“The loose horse in front of us was causing a bit of a problem, although I expected him to give us a lead, but he slipped away and I got an almighty shock when Simon Burrough on Just So arrived there at my circumference.
“I panicked a bit, but my horse picked up well and won.”
The 16-1 shot had a length and a quarter to spare on Just So, with 5-1 favorite Moorcroft Boy 20 more lengths away in third.
However, Miinnehoma’s owner was not on hand to see him.
Pipe added: “We flew him in on Sunday because all the press was there. He obviously enjoyed it. He didn’t go down very much.
“He probably regretted not being there, because he loved his races. He was over the moon when he won, of course.
“He was over the moon. It was a dream come true for him and for me. It was the second National that Richard had won. I think Richard enjoyed this win more than his first.
Although winning with West Tip earlier was a big thrill, Miinnehoma’s win came at a point in my career where I was better able to appreciate and appreciate it.
Dunwoody said: “You never forget your first National. Although winning with West Tip earlier was a big thrill, Miinnehoma’s win came at a point in my career where I was better able to enjoy and appreciate it.
Pipe, who retired with 15 coaching championships between 1988-89 and 2004-05, turns 77 in May.
Only one of its 4,183 European winners has won the Aintree Marathon.
Pipe said, “Winning the National is everything. That’s great. There is no such thing.
“It was amazing for anyone. You’re only allowed once a year.
“Miinnehoma also finished third in the Gold Cup the following year. He was very good.
Just like Pipe. Maybe one day they will erect a statue to him. Or would that be a little too conventional?
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