Martin Pipe: Grand National Legend

Martin Pipe is one of the most successful national hunt horse trainers in the history of the sport. Pipe’s father, David Pipe, was a book-keeper and in his youth Pipe was educated to follow in his father’s footsteps. At this age he already had an interest in book-keeping and hoped to become a ‘turf accountant’.

Martin Pipe first entered the world of horseracing as an amateur jockey, but was forced out of the sport in 1972 when he broke his thigh. Unwilling to abandon horseracing, Martin Pipe turned his attention to training. In 1975 Hit Parade became Pipe’s first winner at a selling hurdle at Taunton. In 1977 Pipe applied for and received his trainer’s license.

For more than a decade Martin Pipe met with little success as a trainer, and spent this period refining his revolutionary approach to horse training. Pipe believed that horse training would benefit from scientific methods, and that traditional methods of horse racing were more often than not detrimental to the performance of horses.

Pipe subjected his horses to rigourous fitness training and stamina building exercises, as well as frequent veterinary checkups that ensured his horses always gave their best on race day. He also dropped the prejudiced attitude of many trainers to smaller less prestigious events, and built up his impressive record with hundreds of wins at these races.

Pipe also made sure not to overspecialise as a trainer, and depending on a horses’ capabilities would train for either flat or national hunt racing. His first major victory came at the Triumph Hurdle at the 1981 Cheltenham Festival, where his outsider Baron Blakeney handed outright favourite Broadsword a sensational defeat. From that moment on Martin Pipe proved to be unstoppable.

In the next two decades Martin Pipe, Grand National legend, developed into the most feted trainer in horseracing. His horses won six times at the Royal Ascot, 32 times at the Cheltenham festival as well as the Champion Hurdle, Doncaster Cup and the Northumberland Plate.

Martin Pipe captured the most elusive prize in horseracing when Grand National legend Richard Dunwoody rode Miinnehoma to victory in the 1994 Grand National. Martin Pipe announced his retirement in 2006, and left his training yard to his son David Pipe.

In a remarkable career Martin Pipe, Grand National legend, won the title of Champion Trainer 15 times and trained hundreds of race-winning horses.