'I'm being discriminated against' - Rachael Blackmore fury at 'unfair' Pipe rules
Donagh Meyler will ride leading Martin Pipe Hurdle contender, The Storyteller, at Cheltenham on St Patrick's Day - but the only conditional with more winners this season is gutted that she is unable to join him.
Rachael Blackmore, a sensation this term with 26 winners in Ireland, is prohibited from riding in a race confined to conditionals, namely professionals who can claim an allowance.
She might have ridden the Willie Mullins-trained Tin Soldier, which the Irish Independent understands is to target a race that the yard has a superb record in. Mullins could also have called on Niall Kelly or Katie O'Farrell but all three are ineligible to partake.
The Martin Pipe is open to conditionals aged 26 or younger. Blackmore, 27, turned pro two years to the day of next week's race and said: "I'm not sure of the reasoning behind it. Surely every claiming jockey should be allowed five years' minimum in these races, regardless of age? I fail to see how this would harm other jockeys.
"For me and I'm sure many others, becoming a jockey isn't always a smooth journey. Now I'm being discriminated against because of that which I think is very unfair. I went to college. Should that effectively be discouraged in an age sense?"
Gordon Elliott, who worked for Pipe, has been sweet on The Storyteller's chance for some time. He investigated a loophole that might have allowed Jack Kennedy to ride but found out that he was not eligible. "The owner wanted the best available and Donagh rode Galway Plate (Lord Scoundrel) and Munster National (Tiger Cry) winners this season for me already," said Elliott
Mullins was sceptical about running Tin Soldier at Cheltenham but revised plans and is set to target a contest he has won three times in the past six renewals. He is generally 14/1, with Jonathan Moore set to ride.
Joseph O'Brien is now likely to run West Coast Time in the Weatherbys Champion Bumper, out of which second-favourite Daphne Du Clos has been ruled by Nicky Henderson. Derek O'Connor says he "would love" to ride the O'Brien-trained Edwulf in the National Hunt Chase and that axis is to be confirmed in the next few days.
Connections of Limini and the Elliott-trained Tombstone must supplement their horse this morning for the Champion Hurdle if they wish. Limini pleased on the gallops yesterday morning for Mullins.
Mullins' nephew, rider David, is bullish about the prospects of the Henderson-trained Brain Power in Tuesday's feature, for which he can be punted at 8/1. "I schooled him at Seven Barrows on Friday morning and he was brilliant," said Mullins in his RacingFX blog.
"I think he is a big price in a very open race. If he gets some reasonable ground he will take a lot of beating.
"He is a straightforward character and improving all the time. I think the Champion Hurdle will suit him. We haven't seen his limit yet."
Meanwhile, Michael O'Leary's Gigginstown is responsible for nine of the ten entries in Naas' Grade Three novice chase on Sunday, JP McManus the other.
According to HRI chief executive, Brian Kavanagh, this merely advertises the powerful owners' "strength in depth". "They are great supporters of all our major races. They have a very strong team, and another aspect of it is that a lot of other trainers are keeping their powder dry with Cheltenham in mind."
The Irish National Stud has welcomed the arrival of Quevega's second foal, a colt by Walk In The Park, the sire of hot Queen Mother Champion Chase favourite, Douvan.
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