The Conditionals' Handicap Hurdle is the latest addition to the Cheltenham Festival and a new race which will hopefully showcase the talents of future champion jockeys. The race ought to end up offering an opportunity for horses which were eliminated from the Coral Cup earlier (Wednesday) in the week.
It is hugely appropriate that Martin Pipe is honoured by having a race named after him, especially as he supported this type of race so well during his trainer career. Pipe is one of the most successful National Hunt trainers of all time and trained 34 winners at the Festival, including the Champion Hurdle twice, with Granville Again (1993) and Make A Stand (1997).
With the majority of the entries having alternative plans at the meeting, punters have been struggling to get a handle on the markets, but one of the exceptions is Mamlook, one of a sizeable squadron of possible runners representing Martin Pipe's son, David. A useful stayer on the Flat, he has not yet quite delivered to the same extent over hurdles but this is his only entry at the Festival and he is handicapped to be competitive.
Jonjo O'Neill has warned that Synchronised will need testing ground if he is to show his best form, but with Sky Bet now offering ‘non-runner, money back' you won't lose out if he is pulled out of the contest. If conditions are ruled to be in his favour, then he has a big chance. The Sky Bet price is. 14-1.