Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Hobbs to proveOurVic Is Simply a Pipe Dream

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Hobbs to proveOurVic Is Simply a Pipe Dream

Article excerpt

Byline: GRAHAM CUNNINGHAM

HANDICAP snip or bookies delight? It's time for the first big talking horse of the jumps season, Martin Pipe's Our Vic, to speak for himself at Cheltenham tomorrow, but Monkerhostin is still the safest bet to land the Paddy Power Gold Cup.

Pipe has dominated this race and this meeting to an astonishing degree of late.

The Paddy Power, in its various guises, has fallen to him six times in the last nine years, while the fact that the champion trainer has saddled 14 winners at this three-day fixture in the last two seasons alone tells you all you need to know about how he approaches it.

Add in the fact that Our Vic is a well-handicapped horse who has been touted as Pipe's No1 hope all week and it's easy to understand why he has been the subject of a sustained gamble, but let's weigh the positives against some worrying negatives.

Yes, Our Vic has always been regarded as a potential star by the Pipe team and he looked to be taking the measure of Monkerhostin when he crumpled on landing over the final fence in the bonusprint Gold Cup here last December.

However, look at what has happened since.

A return to Cheltenham for a Grade 2 chase at the Festival yielded a woeful effort.

Another lifeless performance followed at Aintree in April and, all in all, Our Vic is a horse with plenty to prove at present.

Pipe has concentrated on rebuilding Our Vic's confidence over the summer but has conceded that nothing done at home can replicate the demands of an unforgiving handicap like this.

Perhaps his efforts will pay off, in which case those who snapped up 8-1 will be laughing but, having been slashed to 3-1, he's no bargain.

Now to Monkerhostin. The case for backing him is simple and revolves around the fact he is a highly reliable gelding in the form of his life.

Granted, he meets Our Vic on 17lb worse terms compared to their last meeting, but his rise in the weights is fully deserved based on a vibrant performance in the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter last week. …

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