Who is Martin Pipe?

Martin Pipe, who officially retired, due to poor health, in April, 2006, was a revolutionary, often controversial, trainer, who dominated British National Hunt racing from the late Eighties until the early Noughties. In fact, Pipe won the National Hunt Trainers’ Championship 15 times in all between 1988/89 and 2004/05, including ten seasons in a row between 1995/96 and 2004/05; indeed, he relinquished his reign as Champion trainer only briefly, to the late David Nicholson, in 1993/94 and 1994/95.

Based at Pond House, Nicholashayne, on the Devon-Somerset border, Pipe trained his first winner, Hit Parade, at Taunton in 1975 but, in his 30-year career, would amass a total of 4,180 winners, more than any other National Hunt trainer in history. He saddled 34 winners at the Cheltenham Festival including Granville Again and Make A Stand in the Champion Hurdle, in 1993 and 1997, respectively, and won the Grand National with Miinnehoma im 1994. Indeed, he trained over 200 winners in a season, including a then record 243 in 1999/2000, on eight occasions.

Pipe is credited with introducing training innovations such as blood tests, meticulous record-keeping, which allowed him to chronicle his horses’ health and interval training, all of which are commonplace in the modern training regime. His approach allowed him to boost the fitness of his horses more than any other trainer and he achieved much of his success with cheaply-bought ‘castoffs’ from other stables, which he often improved out of all recognition.

Which was Willie Mullins’ first Cheltenham Festival winner?

Willie Mullins, who has won the Irish National Hunt Trainers’ Championship every season since 2008/09, has also been no stranger to the winners’ enclosure at the Cheltenham Festival in recent years. Indeed, the County Carlow handler is the most successful trainer in the history of the March showpiece meeting, with 72 winners, and has been crowned leading trainer seven times.

The Queen Mother Champion Chase is a notable omission from Mullins’ CV but, of the other three main ‘championship’ races, he has won the Champion Hurdle four times, the Stayers’ Hurdle twice and, after finishing runner-up six times, the Cheltenham Gold Cup twice, courtesy of Al Boum Photo in 2019 and 2020. Everyone needs to start somewhere, of course, and in Willie Mulllins’ case his first winner at the Cheltenham Festival was Tourist Attraction in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle in 1995. Ridden by Mark Dwyer, the 25/1 chance led on the run-in and stayed on well to beat Ventana Canyon, trained by Edward O’Grady and ridden by Charlie Swan, by two lengths.

In which season did Tony McCoy ride most winners?

Undoubtedly the greatest National Hunt jockey in history, Sir Anthony McCoy, a.k.a. Tony McCoy, requires little introduction. Born in County Antrim, Northern Ireland in 1974, McCoy was Champion Conditional Jockey in 1995/96 and, thereafter, Champion Jockey every year for two decades until his retirement in April, 2015. All told, McCoy rode a record 4,348 winners over obstacles, an achievement made all the more remarkable by the fact that he stands 5’10” tall and, throughout his career, required a punishing regime to maintain his weight at around 10st 3lb. In 2016, McCoy was knighted for services to horse racing, making him just the second jockey in history, after Sir Gordon Richards in 1953, to be awarded a knighthood.

Indeed, in 2001/02, en route to his seventh Jump Jockeys’ Championship, McCoy rode 289 winners, thereby breaking the British record for the most winners in a single season, 269, set by Sir Gordon Richards in 1947. In August 2002, McCoy also succeeded Richard Dunwoody as the most prolific jockey in British National Hunt history, when Mighty Montefalco, trained by Jonjo O’Neill, landed odds of 8/13 at Uttoxeter to bring up winner number 1,700. After winning the Jump Jockeys’ Championship again in 2002/03, with 258 winners McCoy set his sights on riding 300 winners in 2003/04; he suffered a major setback when breaking his arm in a fall at Worcester in June, with just 36 winners on the board, but still managed 209 winners in the season as a whole.

Who was Liam Treadwell?

Liam Treadwell was a Grand National winning national hunt jockey born in the market town of Arundel, West Sussex. During his prolific career he won more than 300 races during a ten year period (and 308 wins total). His education and indeed career in horse racing was closely tied with trainer Venetia Williams, who gave him the ride on 2009 Grand National winning Mon Mome after her principle jockey turned down the chance to ride it. The unlikely 100-1 win made Williams only the second ever female trainer to claim victory in the race (after Jenny Pitman). It was Treadwell’s debut in the race and yet his triumph resulted in an memorable achievement – and only the 5th time in the history of the Grand National a horse of those odds had won the race.

He was famously, and jokingly, mocked for his gap-toothed appearance directly after the 2009 Grand National race by interviewer Clare Balding, which resulted in a free dental makeover by a promotion savvy dentist.

The ambitious jockey’s successes in 2009 didn’t end there though. He also won the United House Gold Cup in Ascot that very same year. In 2013 he was still impressing, with a win at the Cheltenham Festival on Carrick boy. In 2015 Liam Treadwell placed third in the Grand National on Monbeg Dude and had a further success in the Grand Sefton Steeplechase. Unfortunately the following year, 2016, was a year that will be remembered for all of the wrong reasons. Following a fall at Bangor, Treadmill was unconscious for several minutes after sustaining a head injury. The concussion resulted in a lasting impact. He spoke of the mental health toll of what he described as the ‘big bang’ in ‘Jockey Matters’.

He spoke candidly about the indicent at the time, “The symptoms of concussion probably wore off after six weeks or two months, but I was mentally not very well and my brain was still a bit fragile when I exercised… I didn’t want to ride a horse as I felt so grim, so disillusioned, and I was shutting myself away, not talking to anyone; I wasn’t diagnosed with depression, but in my own head, sitting on the sofa at home, I felt depressed.”

He officially retired from professional riding in 2018, before recovering enough to make a comeback possible in 2019, and he rode some 20 winners in the 2019-2020 season. Treadmill died on 23rd June 2020, at just 34 years old. His family describe him as “polite, funny, kind and brave“. From Grand National highs on Mon Mome, to this sad time 11 years on, Liam Treadwell had his struggles but also, in his own jovial yet determined fashion, made his mark in the sport of racing.

 

1 2 3 5