David Pipe has passed on an upbeat report over the wellbeing of his tough staying chaser The Package who looks set to return to the fray for the first time this season on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival in the JLT Specialty Handicap Chase on March 13, writes Elliot Slater.
At the festival meeting two years ago the David Johnson-owned gelding failed by just a head to peg back Chief Dan George in a memorable renewal of what was then the William Hill Handicap Chase, and despite his absence from competitive action this term the Pond House trainer as well as the expert’s horse racing tips are quietly confident that the nine-year-old can again give a very good account of himself in the contest.
The John Smith’s Grand National at Aintree in mid-April is the main target this term for Pipe’s charge who was being prepared for last year’s race when meeting with a setback that resulted in him missing the rest of that season and being on the easy list for much of this term as well. Reportedly fully recovered from his ailment, The Package is a horse who has generally run well when fresh in the past and the vibe from the Pipe team is that they will be disappointed if their charge doesn’t once again get into the very thick of the action in what is always a tremendously competitive affair.
The gelded son of Kayf Tara hasn’t actually managed to get his head in front since December 2009 when he beat the useful The Tother One to win the listed Neptune Investment Management Handicap Chase at Cheltenham, but he has run well in all his subsequent outings including when still in touch with the pace at the 19th fence in the 2010 Grand National only to unseat his rider, Graham Lee.
A top priced 50/1 shot for the Aintree marathon, punters who bet on racing can get odds of 16/1 for The Package to make a glorious return to competition at Cheltenham in a few weeks time.