The Package – A Tribute

A tribute piece to The Package – David’s Pipe 12 year old was today retired after running his last race yesterday.

IT seems hard to believe The Package only ran in two Grand Nationals. David Pipe’s horse always seemed to be high up in the ante-post lists for the Aintree spectacular. He was  one the experts wanted to keep on the right side of as there was  the suggestion he was being laid out for the race. But never mind not winning it, he rarely ran in it, despite being one of the top staying handicap chasers in the country for the best part of six years. The Package retired this week after he was pulled up at Uttoxeter on Sunday. It may not have been the farewell connections had been hoping for, but he still went out on a high with his 12-length win in the Kim Muir at Cheltenham back in March still fresh in the memory.

It was at the festival where he really came alive. He ran at the big meeting no fewer than six times, winning once and finishing in the frame three times in the three-mile handicap chase which precedes the Champion Hurdle on the opening day. Last year he came third in that race on his first outing of the season — some performance. And it was that form which prompted punters to see him as their National horse. Here was a horse who could jump, one who could stay and one with form at a big festival in the book. Even better, he came from a yard with knowledge of what it takes to win a National. In some lists he challenged for favouritism for the National, but he was never really a factor as he weakened into 12th behind Pineau De Re. Back in 2010 — on his first venture over the big fences — he unseated Graham Lee on the second circuit.

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So how will he be remembered? Popular, without question. But was he a talent unfulfilled? That’s probably harsh. After all, he retires having banked earnings of more than £180 grand. And he ran seriously well in some serious races. There’s no shame in being beaten by the likes of a peak-form Bobs Worth, or a ridiculously well-handicapped Holywell. And it’s not as if Pipe expected any more of him, as this tribute on his website indicates: “I have had him in the yard ever since I took out my licence and what an incredible servant he has been, winning five times including that incredible success in this year’s Kim Muir under Jamie Codd. “He also won a Listed event at Cheltenham, a Badger Ales Trophy at Wincanton and was placed in the three-mile handicap chase at the  Cheltenham Festival on three separate occasions, as well as finishing in the frame in the Hennessy Gold Cup behind Bobs Worth. “His absence will leave a big hole to fill at Pond House, although he is fully deserving of a long and happy retirement and he signs off happy, healthy and sound.”

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