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Pierrot and Walsh all set to light up Ludlow; MARK WINSTANLEY on Monday.


AFTER the bookmaking fraternity had taken my trousers down at Cheltenham on Saturday afternoon, all I wanted was to find a QLB - quiet little boozer - to drown my sorrows and watch Chelsea beat mighty Wigan.

My travelling companion, Charlie McCann of Stan James fame, suggested a stop-off in Oxford. After all, Inspector Morse was always on the hit and miss, when not arresting lost souls. You know your luck is cursed when the first battle cruiser you come across is shut, while the second doesn't serve beer or lager, only cocktails. What price was that in running? 1,000-1?

Eventually we found a decent public house with Stella and a Roger Mellie, but what unwelcome aggravation.

The jumps aficionados will be heading to Ludlow today, and my advice is leave early. Every time I've been to Shropshire's only track, a tractor or a dozen has scuppered my plans to enjoy the opener.

Paul Nicholls has a very strong hand when it comes to the juvenile hurdle department, as he proved at Cheltenham, where Five Dream captured the concluding handicap.

The champion trainer passed on a very good word for Pierrot Lunaire in his excellent column in the Racing Post a few weeks ago, and although the ex-French cheval sounds like a villain from Maigret, with Ruby Walsh on board the four-year-old will be expected to run a big race on his British debut (1.30).

Pierrot Lunaire had decent form on the Flat in his native land, and Paul's youngsters invariably know their job first time over hurdles, as the silky smooth victory of Celestial Halo at Newbury in late December showed.

Having shown plenty of speed to finish second over 1m2f in France, this speed track will be ideal for Pierrot Lunaire to make a successful hurdling debut.

If David Pipe had not been Martin's son, would we all not be heralding him as the best new trainer to emerge for years? An Accordion landed a gamble in the big handicap chase at Donny on Saturday, following on from Tamarinbleu's gutsy victory in the Victor Chandler the previous Saturday, and the Pond House front room is once again filled with silverware.

Trying to fill Martin Pipe's shoes was an impossible task - a bit like the poor sod who will eventually take over from Sir Alex Ferguson at Man Yoo - but he has gone about the job in his own very successful way.

Gaspara gave him a Cheltenham Festival winner last March, and David has gone from strength to strength since then. I feel the racing press don't give him the recognition he deserves, because it's not easy taking over from a famous father.

You only have to look at other sons who have failed to live up to family expectations, to realise that just because your parent was a top-class trainer, it's not written in stone you will follow suit.

Consigliere was having his first run for David at Towcester on Boxing Day over 2m6f, and he patently failed to see out the trip on the stiffest course in Christendom, having travelled well throughout the race.

The ex-French horse drops back to 2m in the 2.00, and as he made all when winning at Strasbourg last May, don't be surprised to see those tactics employed around this sharp track.

Tom Scudamore seems to ride his best races from the front, as backers of Tamarinbleu will verify. My selection gets a handy 3lb weight-for-age allowance, and with the stable in great form, I expect a big run from the lightly raced Consigliere.

The concluding bumper at 4.30 can go to Finney, who is sure to be kept wide all the way. Oliver Sherwood's animal ran a cracker on his racecourse debut when chasing home The Nightingale at Wincanton on Boxing Day, with 14 wickets back to the third.

The seventh beast home, Orion D'Oudairies, was in the process of running a cracker when in second spot on his hurdles debut at Newbury last Friday until he took a crashing fall at the third-last.

It seems many moons ago when I was backing the likes of The West Awake, Aldino and Large Action, but Uncle Oliver can still train, as he proved when saddling a Barney Rubble last week.

He also has a very decent bumper winner called Fassaroe, so Finney has something decent to work with.


Celestial Halo: his silky smooth win at Newbury last month demonstrated once again that Nicholls' recruits from France know their job first time out in Britain
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Jan 28, 2008
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