|Wednesday 20th March 2019|
David Pipe Hungry for Another Grand National Success
Pipe, who trains at Pond House, Nicholshayne on the Devon/Somerset border, has four entries going forward for the 172nd running of the world's greatest and most valuable chase, which has a safety limit of 40. But one is very unlikely to get into the race, run over 30 fences and four miles, two furlongs and 74 yards, after 81 horses went forward today.
Successful with Comply Or Die in the 2008 renewal of the race, Pipe takes aim at the 2019 edition with the progressive Ramses De Teillee and Randox Health Grand National specialist Vieux Lion Rouge, while a decision has still to be made about the quirky Daklondike, who refused to race last time out.
Ramses De Teillee (10st 5lb, 33/1 with Betway, official betting partner of the Randox health Grand National Festival) has enjoyed an excellent season thus far, landing the Welsh Grand National Trial at Chepstow on December 8, before finishing a staying-on second to Elegant Escape in the Welsh Grand National itself on December 27 over an extended three miles and five furlongs.
The grey seven-year-old son of Martaline chased home Robinsfirth in the G3 William Hill Grand National Trial at Haydock Park on his latest start (February 16, 3m 4½f) and Pipe is looking forward to saddling the imposing grey.
Pipe said: "All three of our horses in the race would like soft ground. Ramses De Teillee and Vieux Lion Rouge are going to run in the race, all being well. Both of those horses will be fine on good to soft or softer.
"We weren't sure if Ramses De Teillee was going to get the Welsh National trip, but he got it well. He ran very well at Haydock last time out. The race fell apart a bit and he was left in front a long way out that day with four fences still to jump and it's a tough run up the home straight there.
"He is only seven, but he has run on some big racedays including the Cheltenham Festival, the Welsh National and a Grand National Trial at Haydock Park - he just doesn't seem to be fazed by anything and I wouldn't be concerned by the atmosphere for him.
"I think the owners (John White and Anne Underhill) were tempted to wait until next year for the Grand National, but he is 5lb well-in.
"We don't know whether Ramses De Teillee will get the trip in the Grand National, but plenty of horses will have that question mark. He seems to stay well and has a high cruising speed. He hasn't schooled over the Grand National fences yet, but he will school over them next week and will go for a racecourse gallop with Vieux Lion Rouge.
"Ramses De Teillee does seem to jump and travel and it will more be a case of what he finds when he turns in. Probably 18 months ago, we would not have thought Ramses De Teillee was a potential Grand National runner, but he has progressed a lot this season and showed he stays well."
Ramses De Teillee
Vieux Lion Rouge (10st 2lb, 40/1 with Betway) is described as an "Aintree specialist" by Pipe having finished ninth (2018), sixth (2017) and seventh (2016) in his three runs in the Randox Health Grand National.
Successful in the 2016 Becher Chase over the Grand National fences, the 10-year-old son of Sabiango was a fine second to Walk On The Mill, beaten four and a half-lengths, in this season's renewal on December 8, as well as coming home seventh in the 2017 edition.
Pulled-up in his two most recent starts in the William Hill Grand National Trial at Haydock Park in February and the Coral Welsh Grand National at Chepstow in December, Pipe revealed that Vieux Lion Rouge has been treated for ulcers since his latest run.
He explained: "Vieux Lion Rouge has probably been over more Grand National fences than any horse in this year's race!
"He disappointed in the Grand National Trial behind Ramses De Teillee at Haydock last time, but we've treated him for ulcers since and he seems in good form. As everyone knows, he lights up to the occasion of running over the Grand National fences. Some horses lap up the atmosphere and he certainly does.
"It's fair to say that Vieux Lion Rouge has come up a bit short in terms of seeing out the trip in the Grand National. However, you can only win the race if you get round. He has a great track record and I'm hoping that treating his ulcers will make an improvement.
"He is a year older now at 10 and he's getting a bit slower, so he might stay further. He has dropped down the weights a bit too.
"We found the ulcers after his last run at Haydock. The time before in the Welsh National, we put a pair of blinkers on him and they certainly lit him up alright, but he just did too much early on. Vieux Lion Rouge will wear sheepskin cheekpieces and Ramses De Teillee will have a tongue-tie."
Vieux Lion Rouge
The Gordon Elliott-trained Tiger Roll captured the 2018 Randox Health Grand National and sauntered to a facile 22-length win in the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase at Cheltenham on March 13.
The Giggingstown House Stud-owned nine-year-old won the same contest in 2018 ahead of his Aintree victory and, if successful on April 6, would become the first horse since Red Rum to land back-to-back runnings of the £1-million contest.
Pipe was effusive in his praise of the nine-year-old son of Authorized: "The one we all have to beat in the Grand National is Tiger Roll. He seems better than ever and you know that he will get the trip.
"He is 9lb higher than last year in the ratings, but is 8lb well-in following his Cheltenham run. Comply Or Die was 15lb higher in 2009 when he finished second to Mon Mome, having won it the previous year. That was a probably better performance than when he actually won the Grand National.
"We haven't decided on jockeys yet, nothing is set in stone and we'll make a decision closer to the time."
David Pipe next to a Grand National Schooling Fence
Regarding Daklondike (10st 4lb, 50/1 with Betway), the Pond House handler revealed he is an unlikely runner, adding: "I'm not sure about Daklondike running in the race. He is talented, but quirky and he would need it soft.
"We'll see what happens, but I'm not sure the starter would want him to run. He has always been quirky and we are trying a few different things with him."
Reflecting on his 2008 success with Comply Or Die in the Randox Health Grand National, Pipe continued: "It would mean everything to win the race again. The 2008 victory was a bit of a blur, a nice blur, but I suppose you appreciate it more the second time.
"To have won the Grand National once is fantastic and that means I can go into the race a little more relaxed. It was amazing to win the Grand National in my second season.
"You always have ideas at the start of the season about horses who could become Grand National contenders. Some surprise you, others disappoint you. You are always working back from the Cheltenham Festival or the Grand National. The Grand National is the pinnacle and I'll have two tickets to the lottery."
Pipe is also set to be represented elsewhere at the Randox Health Grand National Festival, with unbeaten novice hurdler Umbrigado and smart bumper performer Eden Du Houx both set to take their chances at the Liverpool track.
He remarked: "We have some nice runners going for some other races at Aintree.
"A lot of our runners will be ground dependent, but Umbrigado could go for a novice hurdle over either two or two and a half-miles. We purposely missed Cheltenham with him to go to Aintree.
"Umbrigado has done nothing wrong and he was impressive at Exeter last time out. He is a horse we have always thought a lot of - he will have to step up again, but he warrants taking his chance at Liverpool. Hopefully, we'll be at Cheltenham with him next year.
"Eden Du Houx was another horse who missed Cheltenham and could go to Aintree or Punchestown.
"The ground changes quickly this time of year so we'll see what happens there."