Road to Cheltenham

Bill Esdaile
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WHEN it comes to target trainers Martin Pipe has to go down as the godfather of them all. The 15-time champion trainer always used to have a horse lined up for races like the Imperial Cup or Paddy Power Gold Cup, and his son David is following in his footsteps.

The Midlands Grand National is a fine example, with Pipe Jnr landing the post-Cheltenham Uttoxeter prize for the last four years. He also has an enviable record in the newly titled Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate, with three wins in the past six runnings.

I always keep an eye out for the yard’s runners in this race and the one who looks laid out for it this year is MONETAIRE at 12/1.

This nine-year-old has a huge amount of experience in France and joined the Pipe stable before this season, making his debut at Cheltenham in November.

He ran a remarkable race that day, as he clouted the first and then made another howler four out, but he was only headed at the last and finished a highly respectable third.

He then beat the decent Solar Impulse at Newbury’s Hennessy meeting and has since been put away to protect his handicap mark. Although he is also entered in the Grand Annual, the step up to 2m5f is just what he needs and I can see him starting nearer 5/1 on the day.

Monetaire’s owner Alan Stennett has won two of the last three renewals of this race with Ballynagour and Salut Flo, so it is clearly a race that both the trainer and owner like to target.

He will be running off a lovely racing weight and all looks set for a massive run.

■ Pointers…
MONETAIRE (12/1 Brown Advisory Plate